Always smiling, always singing, always so full of life, Linda Lewis, an indelibly beautiful detail of English melodic landscape from the early ’70s onwards, has passed away yesterday at the age of 72. The wide masses saw her out in the open for the first time at the inaugural Glastonbury Festival where the lady’s alluring wails mesmerized the crows, but what followed a little later was a string of hits, including 1973’s Lewis-written “Rock-a-Doodle-Doo” – a tune Linda co-produced with her then-husband Jim Cregan whose links warranted that on the albums such as “Lark” – whence came “Old Smokey” which got sampled by Common on his “Go” featuring John Mayer and Kanye West – and “Not a Little Girl Anymore” the singer used to be accompanied by the elite players making her voice shine the brightest.
Born in Essex, Linda became a prominent performer not only due to the fact she was a black Englishwoman in the era when racial prejudices still reigned in Britain; her success lay in Lewis’ folk, rather than soul or blues, leanings – although her career began after the youngster had sung a number with John Lee Hooker at a club – and her acting talents – albeit noticing the teenager in “A Taste of Honey” or “A Hard Day’s Night” isn’t that easy. However, it’s not too difficult to discern her high-pitched, yet sultry, backing vocals – not for nothing people called the lady “Songbird”! – on David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” or “Catch Bull At Four” by Cat Stevens, on Rod Stewart and Steve Harley’s platters – and even on "Go Too" by Stomu Yamashta and “Close Your Eyes” by BASEMENT JAXX.
Later on, Linda did embrace soul and had more chart entries – and she carried on collaborating with other artists, Lewis’ last one being THE PARACOSMOS’ “Earthling” issued earlier in 2023. There were more plans but… She passed away peacefully to be sorely missed.