Gary Lewis’ mom – a former singer with Ted Fio Rito’s big band — wanted to name him after her favorite actor, Cary Grant. However, due to a typing error, her son was listed as “Gary” on his 1945 birth certificate – and the name stuck.
Gary’s dad, of course, was comedian Gary Lewis, who was not to rise to fame until the following year when he teamed with crooner Dean Martin. Nevertheless, growing up in a show biz family, Gary wanted to discover his own talents and was given a set of drums on his 14th birthday. Four years later, with the help of four friends, Lewis assembled his own band, which he named “The Playboys” because they were always late for rehearsals.
Gary Lewis & the Playboys began accepting dates around Southern California and were performing live at Disneyland when producer Snuff Garrett spotted them. Sensing commercial potential, Snuff hired master musician Buddy Rich to sharpen Gary’s drumming skills. He also insisted that Gary sing lead – even though others in the band had handled all vocals and Gary openly admitted he was far from a good singer. To make up for that, Snuff chose to augment his new star’s voice via multiple overdubs — including mixing in to Gary’s vocal tracks the sound of unbilled studio singers’ voices.
The result was a stunning string of seven effervescent Top 10 singles in a row, commencing with the 1965 #1 million-seller “This Diamond Ring.” “Count Me In,” “Save Your Heart for Me” and “Everybody loves a Clown” followed, as did “”She’s Just My Style,” “Sure Gonna Miss Her” and “Green Grass.” After that came “My Heart’s Symphony,” “Paint me a Picture,” “Where Will The Words Come From” “Girls in Love” and “Sealed With a Kiss.”
In January 1967, however, the career of Gary Lewis got sidetracked when he found himself drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed overseas with the Eighth Army in Seoul, South Korea.
After his return home, Gary more or less retired from performing and instead opened a music shop in the San Fernando Valley. Today he occasionally steps into the spotlight, touring with other ‘60s stars (like Gary Puckett, The Cowsills, The Turtles, etc.) on what are billed as “Happy Together” reunion tours.