Bobby Lewis had one of the biggest songs of the 60's and reached the top ten twice in the early part of that decade.
Bobby was born in Indianapolis and raised in an orphanage there. Many sources say that he was born in 1933 but according to an interview that Bobby Lewis did in 2010, that was hype from the record companies, and his actual date of birth is February 9, 1925. He learned to play the piano at age five and so began his lifelong love of music. He was adopted by a family and moved to Detroit at age twelve.
As a young adult he travelled the Midwest performing as a singer. His travels brought him in contact with luminaries of the entertainment world such as Duke Ellington and Wes Montgomery, and he became friends with a young Jackie Wilson. Bobby is an affable, witty, likeable person and used his talents as a master of ceremonies when performing with Wilson and James Brown. He recorded for various record companies and became acquainted with Ritchie Adams, who sang with a doo-wop group known as the Fireflies. In 1960 Lewis was performing at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, but had yet to record a hit record. He stopped by Beltone Records there, where Adams was working as a songwriter.
Ritchie Adams had co-written a song with Malou Rene and called it Tossin' And Turnin'. In late 1960 Lewis recorded the song, but none of them knew what a monster hit it would prove to be. The timing was right for Bobby Lewis in the early 60's, when dance tunes were very popular (just ask Chubby Checker), and this was a rousing song that you could dance to. Lewis's Tossin' And Turnin' rose to number one on the charts in the Spring of 1961, and it resided there for a full seven weeks. Later in the year he followed with One Track Mind, which would prove to be his only other top ten record.
Tossin' And Turnin' sold more than three million copies and was the top-selling record of 1961, beating out such strong competition as Del Shannon's Runaway, Jimmy Dean's Big Bad John, and the Tokens' The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Bobby Lewis continued to tour and appeared on television on American Bandstand, in Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars, and in some of Alan Freed's shows staged in New York City. He continued recording into the 70's, and touring and performing for decades.
In a bow to the enormous popularity of Tossin' And Turnin', it was included on the soundtrack for the movie Animal House. And in the mid-70's Billboard Magazine proclaimed it to be the fifth largest selling single in the history of rock-and-roll.
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