Linda Lewis, a critically acclaimed soul singer and songwriter whose pyrotechnic voice propelled 4 High 10 singles as a solo artist in her native Britain and led to work as a backup vocalist on acclaimed albums by stars like David Bowie, Cat Stevens and Rod Stewart, died on Might 3 at her house in Waltham Abbey, outdoors London. She was 72.
Her sister Dee Lewis Clay confirmed the dying however didn’t specify a trigger.
Ms. Lewis drew raves for her hovering five-octave vocal vary and impressed listeners together with her genre-hopping instincts, drawing from people, R&B, rock, reggae, pop and — with greater than a nudge from label executives — disco.
She grew up finding out Motown hits word by word, and her first single, “You Turned My Bitter Into Candy” (1967), was a joyous up-tempo quantity that sounded straight out of Berry Gordy’s recording studio on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
After that she joined the Ferris Wheel, a rock and soul band that was standard on Britain’s membership circuit, earlier than shifting on to a solo profession as a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter and signing with Reprise Data in 1971.
“That was a nice time,” she stated in a 2007 interview with Document Collector journal. “I used to be residing in a kind of commune, and a great deal of folks have been popping out and in. Cat Stevens turned up lots, as did Marc Bolan and Elton John. There was a variety of jamming occurring there, some very inventive vibes.”
She ended up touring the world with Mr. Stevens (who later took the identify Yusuf after changing to Islam), in addition to lending her voice to albums like David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” (1973) and Rod Stewart’s “Blondes Have Extra Enjoyable” (1978).
Her first solo album, “Say No Extra,” launched in 1971, didn’t make a splash commercially. The subsequent yr she launched “Lark,” an album marked by a California breeziness that acquired sturdy opinions and included the track “Previous Smokey,” which the rapper Frequent sampled in his 2005 track “Go!” An American tour in 1973 helped create buzz.
However nonetheless, she wanted a success.
She discovered one that very same yr, with the buoyant, racy single “Rock a Doodle Doo,” which hit No. 15 in Britain (though it didn’t chart in the USA). It confirmed off her vary with vocals that swung from husky lows to shimmering highs, to the purpose that the track may very well be mistaken for a duet.
Within the mid-Seventies, she signed with Arista Data, whose founder, Clive Davis, selected to bundle her as a disco diva like Gloria Gaynor. That call paid dividends, a minimum of commercially. Her 1975 single “It’s in His Kiss,” a Studio 54-ready spin on Betty Everett’s 1964 hit “The Shoop Shoop Music (It’s in His Kiss),” reached No. 6 in Britain, though it, too, barely made a splash in the USA.
However Ms. Lewis bristled on the pressured profession flip. “I didn’t actually persist with my weapons, I’m afraid,” she later stated. “I noticed myself as a singer-songwriter; they didn’t.”
Even so, the album with the one, “Not a Little Woman Anymore,” hit No. 40 in Britain, with Rolling Stone noting that it introduced “this multi-styled English artist into the mainstream of latest R&B.”
By the 2000s, her music had crossed over to a brand new technology, as she sang on albums by Oasis, Basement Jaxx and Jamiroquai.
Linda Ann Fredericks was born on Sept. 27, 1950, in Customized Home, an space within the docklands of East London. She was one in all six youngsters of Eddie Fredericks, a musician, and Lily Fredericks, who labored as a bus conductor and managed pubs. (It’s unclear why the singer selected Lewis as her stage surname.)
Her mom had nice ambitions for her as a performer and enrolled her in stage faculty, an expertise on which Ms. Lewis didn’t look again fondly.
Her compass was set towards music. She obtained her first style of the limelight in her early teenagers, when her mom took her to see John Lee Hooker carry out at a membership and pushed her to the stage to belt out, with the blues titan’s permission, a rendition of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing within the Avenue.”
Along with Ms. Lewis Clay, she is survived by two different sisters, Shirley Lewis and Patsy Wildman; her brothers, Keith and Paul Fredericks; and her son, Jesse. Her three marriages resulted in divorce.
Whereas Ms. Lewis angled to flee stage faculty on the earliest doable alternative, her flirtation with performing was not a whole waste. She made a short look within the Tony Richardson movie “A Style of Honey” (1961). She additionally popped up as a screaming fan within the Beatles film “A Onerous Day’s Evening” (1964).
She was not the one future musical notable within the crowd of hysterical Beatlemaniacs. Phil Collins, in his schoolboy jacket and tie, was additionally on set as an additional. “A few years later, I ran into him and stated, ‘Hey, we made a movie collectively,’” Ms. Lewis instructed Document Collector. “He gave me a really humorous look. I feel he thought I used to be a nutter.”