In today’s music scene, it isn’t uncommon for those involved to wear many hats.
Artists crossover from performing to producing, find parallel careers in film, literature, and the visual arts with regularity. In earlier times, this phenomenon was less prevalent, excepting well-known performers such as Elvis and Frank Sinatra. Arlington’s own Gerald M. Lewis had a rich and varied career, being involved in many different aspects of music including performing, instruction, production, and recording.
From 1954-1979, Mr. Lewis served as a band director for Gunston and Stratford Junior High Schools, and Wakefield and Washington-Lee High Schools. At his home on 216 S. Pershing Drive, Lewis also owned and operated Gerald Lewis Recording. Housed in a mobile home adjacent to his residence, Gerald Lewis Recording was a mobile recording unit that offered him the ability to record performers and public events on location.
Operating from 1964-1991, a remarkably diverse customer base utilized Mr. Lewis’ recording service. Local Virginia and Maryland schools and churches recorded public events and concerts, including performances from high school marching bands and public speakers.
Local recording artists also took advantage of Lewis’ expertise. In 1985, Teen-Beat Records artists Unrest used the mobile studio to master their debut 7” single “So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”/ “Zelda” (Side A) – “The Hill” (Side B), which was also the first Teen-Beat vinyl release. Unrest band member and Teen-Beat impresario Mark Robinson recalls, “He [Lewis] essentially was the broker for Teen-Beat to press our first record. He put the master tape together, sent it to the pressing plant, etc. I paid him, and he paid the pressing plant. I found his number in the Yellow Pages. He also recorded and pressed up the Arlington All-County Orchestra record that I was on back in 4th or 5th grade, so I knew that this guy knew how to make a record.”
In 1996, Mr. Lewis and his wife Elizabeth, a music teacher at Wakefield High School, moved to Tennessee where he continued to be involved in music, directing, arranging, and playing trombone for the Pleasant Hill Ensemble until his passing in March of 2008, at the age of 82.
What about you?
Do you have any memories of Mr. Lewis or his recording services?