On November 10, 2011, lung cancer got the best of doo-wop legend Darryl “Cappy” Lewis. You’ve never heard of him? Neither had I until I cracked open The Sacramento Bee and read Robert D. Davila’s obituary. I couldn’t believe that an eyewitness to so much music history had been living just miles away from me all of these years and I didn’t have a clue — just your local gas and electric man who happened to cut a million seller as a teenager and was Charles Mingus’s nephew.
Here’s a Cappy Lewis career overview for you, but don’t stop here. He made a lot of beautiful noise during his half century as a musician, and a bunch of it is out there on the intergooglewebtubes waiting for you.
“A Casual Look,” the Six Teens: Cappy sang bass in the Six Teens, his first successful band. They played on the same bills with many legends of the Golden era: Fats Domino, The Coasters, Sam Cooke, The Righteous Brothers. This was their big hit, making it to number 25 on the charts back in 1956. Sanity check: 1956 was the year Elvis broke. Think about that.
“Send Me Flowers,” the Six Teens: In 1957 the Six Teens were playing Hawaii with Frankie Avalon. This song was such a big hit there that they got top billing over Frankie.
“Uncle Sam’s Man,” The Elgins: This was Cappy’s next group, formed in 1960. The Elgins were still touring the oldies circuit today. Their website states that they were looking for bookings for 2011-2012. He wrote this cut, which also was their biggest hit.
“One God,” The Truth Messengers: This was Cappy’s gospel band, and “One God” was his personal favorite:
“Yes We Can,” Cappy Lewis: Best I can tell this is Cappy’s last cut, released in time for President Obama’s inauguration. Shades of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” for a new era.