During the 1960s, every popular music artist of the day came to San Francisco. For the pop and rock performers, that usually meant a concert at the Cow Palace. Unlike today, stars shared the stage with a selection of performers. One of those bands racked up eight gold singles, 17 Top 40 hits, four gold albums and sold more than 45 million records worldwide. Do you know which one? This one:
Gary Lewis was at home in Los Angeles when his famous father, Jerry Lewis, gave him a drum set for his 14th birthday. When his band started playing at Disneyland, his mother was paying for his equipment without telling his dad. “This Diamond Ring” hit number one on the Billboard magazine’s Top 100 Chart on February 20, 1965. Soon after, his band was booked for a Cow Place concert for a “Fall Spectacular” with Sonny and Cher, The Byrds and others. When his father found out that his son was a success, he apparently said, “I only ask one thing, don’t grow your hair like those damn Beatles!”
After appearances on “American Bandstand,” “Hullabaloo,” and the “Ed Sullivan Show,” he was drafted in January of 1967. He was stationed with the Eighth Army in Seoul, South Korea until 1968. By the time he returned home, music had changed.
In an interview with Gary James on www.classicbands.com, he spoke of his time in the Army. Asked if he had any regrets he said, “It’s just amazing how many Vietnam vets come up to me at these shows and thank me for doing what I was supposed to do. So, I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
And this is Gary today: