The Story of Lou Lewis

“A Texas Cactus… With all the thorns to milk the juice from a jug of whiskey… Now that’s what I call refreshing…” LL.

Lou Lewis was born, Francis Oliver Lewis… A middle son right between 4 sisters… Pepper and Sugar the two oldest, with little Suzy and Lucy being the younger… And twins to boot… You see, Lou’s been around music his whole life… Country music on the porch, back home with the family and the dogs… His Father, Francis Oliver Lewis, senior, was a welder at the local steel shop in town, Gaitlin Steel… Old Frank, as he was called, would bring home big ole pieces of steel and sheet metal to cut out musical instruments for him and his family to play… He loved and treasured the way his family were so close…

And it was especially rewarding seeing the smile from his Sally, or Mother, as he would he affectionately refer to her… Elizabeth, Marie Lewis, the boss of the house, no doubt about this… Sally, as her friends called her, was a strong, hard working woman with unbreakable convictions… She was never one to hold her tongue for too long… When she got the mind to say something, she spoke it… Even Old Frank wasn’t immune from the tongue lashings… But she was always a very loving mother and devoted wife to the bitter end… Lou, being the middle child and a Jr., grew up surrounded by women… His father’s only Son…

“Hey look here Boy. You and I. Hey! I’m talking to you! Now listen up. You and I, you see, are the only ones in this entire house that pee standing up. And I’m just glad I’m not alone.” F.L.

Moments like this with his father helped Lou develop his keen eye for the details… You see, music ran deep in Lou’s family… For generations actually… When Lou was 4, he received his first guitar from Papa George, Frank’s dad, and a dough boy in the Great War… That’s a whole nother story… Lou would play just about anything his family would put in front of him… But at an early age, he knew that the he had an ear for music and wanted nothing more than to be behind the scenes where the magic is stirred and the concoction’s brewed… So an audio engineer he set out to be…

Lou began his formal training at a local JuCo, back home in his small East Texas town… I’ll leave the name out for now for personnal reasons… Working Hands On in his first studio made Lou feel very empowered and confident… A place he knows and loves… He’d always say, with his Texas draw, “I’m at home, at the console…”

After 3 years of school and a few thousand dollars in student loans, Lou decided to move East, to the great state of Tennessee… He landed his 1st gig running live sound at a small honky tonk just outside of the city limits, the Dirty Chicken… A Road House, if you know what I mean… Living on the tips he’d make from the patrons, and working as a cable puller during the day, Lou seemed to thrive in Nashville… Then came his first big break, and it came quicker than he could have ever hoped for…

One night, he was lucky enough to be running sound for a hot local band, the Sidewinders… You know, the Snake… Anyway, The Sidewinders had a very attractive, middle aged woman as their manager by the name of Rhonda Burks… A real go getter… She took a liken to ole Lou and offered him a job working at her own studio…

“Well, Hell Yea, I’ll come work for you Mrs. Burks.” “Call me Rhonda sweet thing.”

So began the 1st studio gig for Mr. Lou Lewis… He basically ran all the cables, set all the mics, helped get all of the levels, swept the studio, and on a more personal note, he was an errand boy, dog walker, Rhonda’s Toy (Nice), but more importantly he was soaking in all the knowledge he could get… Like a Sponge… He was the sole understudy of the Local Legend, Bill Strothers… “Known by All who should Know…” Lou got to work with the likes of Del Walker, Otis and the Hillbilly’s, Randle Stewart and the Smoke Hounds, Sofia, and a few other… The time there at Horseshoe Records, was a great learning experience for the Boy… But bigger things were up ahead…

After about 5 years with Rhonda, Lou landed a gig working for Rhinestone Records, as their head engineer… He was fortunate enough to work with some of the finest musicians this town had to offer… He soon became the favorite of all the studio Cats… This is ultimately the place where he was given the name, Lou Lewis… His family and friends back home just called him Little Frank… So Lou Lewis he became… This experience was wonderful for him, but there was always something missing… This feeling of not knowing what to do, overwhelmed Lou… I guess he was looking for something to sink his teeth into, something different… So he loaded up a Penske truck and along with a fellow outcast/musician, Frankie Standalone, moved out West… To the land of the Rainy Winter…

1 comment

  • Ramona G.

    Ramona G.

    Love your stories as much as your music!

    Love your stories as much as your music!

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