It is with sadness that we learned of the death of Steve Lewins, the original bass player with Chiswick Records’ very first band , the Count Bishops, who recorded the ‘Speedball’ EP [SW1] in September 1975. This 7” record was released in November 1975 and went on to sell over 10,000 copies, playing a seminal part in helping to establish the fledgling Chiswick Records label.
Steve was a founding member of the Count Bishops and played on all their early releases, but left in the Autumn of 1977 to join Wilko Johnson’s Solid Senders. After the Solid Senders, Steve worked as a gigging musician for about a year in London and formed a short-lived group, the Untouchables, who recorded the Muddy Waters song ‘I Just Can’t Be Satisfied’ for the 1980 LP “London R&B Sessions [Live at the Hope & Anchor]”. In 1980 he was invited to join Chelsea by Gene October for an American tour during which the band took part in the Punk movie Urgh! A Music War along with The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, X and several other bands. While in the US with Chelsea, he spent a few days in New York and was impressed by the thriving music scene there.
Before the end of 1980, Steve returned to New York and soon became immersed in that city’s music scene working as ‘bass for hire’. This gave him the opportunity to work with many leading NY Punk / New Wave musicians, such as Johnny Thunders, Sylvain Sylvain, Cheetah Chrome, as well as many Blues artists including Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin, C J Chenier and Johnny Copeland.
In 1992 Steve moved to New Orleans where he played for several years with the Big Mess Blues Band, a popular group of buskers on the streets of New Orleans.
Steve also joined Jeremy Lyons in the Delta Billy Boys a heavy blues trio that toured Europe in the summer of 1996. Returning to the US after the European trip, Steve was refused re-entry to the US (having overstayed his previous visa).
Back in the UK, Steve decided to form an acoustic Blues group the Fly Jugband with drummer Danny Bacon. He switched to acoustic guitar and harmonica and worked as Catfish Slim with the Fly Jugband until recently. The band was based in Hatfield and mainly played gigs in the home counties north of London as well as on the Continent.
Steve Lewins died from cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C on 21st May 2015. He is survived by his daughter Bridget Rose, his parents and brother David.
[Steve Lewins. born 29/7/1954 ~ died 21/5/2015]
For more information on Steve’s career see http://www.flyjugband.co.uk/
Steve Lewins pictured (centre) above.