Steve Lewis (musician)

Steve Lewis (musician)

Steve Lewis (March 19, 1896 - c 1941?) was a jazz pianist and composer.

Lewis was born in New Orleans. He was influenced by the piano stylings of Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton, and became the primer pianist in Storyville after those two older musicians left town. When the District was closed down in 1917 he went on tour with Billy & Mary Mack's Merrymakers Review. He returned to New Orleans the following year and joined Armand J. Piron's Orchestra.

Lewis was an eccentric character. He drove a Ford Model T which he had custom painted in bright multicolored polka-dots. He played the piano without using either of his middle fingers; these he kept extended straight while playing (in the manner of the rude gesture known as "Shooting the Bird").

Lewis taught piano; Luis Russell was one of his students.

Lewis recorded with the Piron Orchestra, some accompanyments for singer New Orleans Willie Jackson, and a single piano roll. Those well familiar with his music first hand have said that these recordings are an inadequate sample of Lewis' range and talent.

Lewis started showing signs of mental illness, left Piron's band in 1938, was committed to an insane asylum in 1940, and was said to have died there soon after.


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