According to Tony Russell’s book “The Blues – From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray,” Lewis was described as “the unluckiest man in New Orleans. He hit on a formula for slow-rocking, small-band numbers like ‘The Bells Are Ringing’ and ‘I Hear You Knocking’ only to have Fats Domino come up behind him with similar music more ingratiatingly delivered. Lewis was practically drowned in Domino’s backwash.” Ouch! I don’t want to dump on Domino, because I love his music dearly, but it’s a shame Lewis is not as famous.
To add insult to injury, Dave Edmunds’s 1970 cover of Lewis’s “I Hear You Knocking” is better known than the original. While the Edmunds song is justifiably considered a classic, Lewis’s original is so damn good. It’s a slightly edgier version of Domino’s New Orleans R&B and the song should be a staple on Oldies stations, but sadly isn’t. Raise a glass of fine bourbon in Lewis’s honor.