Raymond Lewis, one of the more colorful characters from the rhythm and blues era, died in New Orleans June 1, 2020. He was 86. Lewis was best known for his local 1962 hit I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You, which embodied the early 1960s New Orleans sound perfectly.
Born in New Orleans July 7, 1933, by the mid-1950s became a professional musician playing electric bass and trumpet. Lewis got a job playing with Huey Smith's band. Lewis can be heard on several of Smith's Ace records singing backup with the Clowns on his hits. In order to make some extra money, Lewis had an interesting way of augmenting his income as a musician.
"Raymond was a pimp," laughed bandleader Deacon John Moore. "He was quite a ladies man. He had a whole lot of girls and made a whole lot of money. I met him Uptown at the Caravan at 808 Kadiz Street. We had a little pickup band there on the weekend. Raymond also played with Earl King, Allen Toussaint and Joe Tex.
"Raymond was one of the characters at the Dew Drop back then. He had a powder blue Cadillac convertible with fins. Matching powder blue hat and powder blue suit. He'd park it right in front of the Dew Drop. Allen Toussaint had a red Cadillac just like his and he'd double park it right next to Raymond's Cadillac."
"Earl King was Lewis' partner in mischief at the Dew Drop. They'd drill holes in the wall and peep through to find out who was screwing who. They were always together starting trouble."
It was Lewis' bond with Toussaint that got him signed to Irving Smith's Instant label. At the time, Toussaint was producing and arranging sessions for Instant and Smith's partner at Minit Records, Joe Banashak.
Lewis would record three 45s for Instant in 1961-62, each produced by Toussaint and stamped by his arrangements. Of course the most memorable was "I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You," but check out the flip NIne Cents Worth Of Chances, which featured Benny Spellman on backup vocals.
"Raymond wrote those songs. Those songs were about some of the girls that worked for him, Moore said, "Politically incorrect now for sure. 'I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You' did pretty well around here. It was on the jukeboxes and radio here. Raymond did a few gigs off of the record, but he was making more money pimping. He got out of music not long after."
He also recorded for Warm (1964, with a master number in the Watch Records series), Bonatemp (1966) and Sansu (1967).
Apparently Lewis continued to pimp for several years apparently along Claiborne Avenue. That all changed on a dime according to Moore, probably in-the late 1960s; "His wife died and Raymond turned his life around just like that. He got religion. He became a master carpenter and architect. He built churches, schools and houses. He was the head contractor for building Mason's Las Vegas Strip on Claiborne Avenue. He became a mason and in 1976 he was the Big Shot in the Zulu Parade. He also started preaching [apparently on Claiborne Avenue where he once pimped]."
In later years, Lewis still stayed in contact with his buddies once in awhile. I encountered him one night at Tastee Donuts and he and Earl King exchanged ribald tales well into the evening.
Raymond Lewis is survived by a plethora of children, grandchildren
and great grandchildren.
- Jeff Hannusch