1966 Gary Lewis and the Playboys – My Heart’s Symphony
When comedian Jerry Lewis and his wife had a child in 1946, they intended to name their son Cary. Thanks to a clerical error, they recorded the name as Gary.
Gary began playing the drums when he got a drum kit as a present on his 14th birthday. He became a member of a four-man group in high school. He jokingly referred to the other members as playboys because they constantly showed up late for practices and they kept the name. Their group began playing at Disneyland. Producer Snuff Garrett listened to the group perform and signed them to a recording contract with Liberty Records. He insisted that Gary become the lead singer to capitalize on his relationship to Jerry. The first song the group released was This Diamond Ring.
Gary insists that his collection of Playboys played on the recording. It is clear that overdubs were provided by members of the Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine played drums, Joe Osborn played bass, and Leon Russell arranged the song and played keyboards.
Ron Hicklin had a group of singers who performed as the vocal equivalent of the Wrecking Crew. They sang on many, many television theme songs and also did most of the background singing for the Partridge Family. Ron sang overdubs on This Diamond Ring to strengthen Gary’s vocals.
The single reached the top of the Hot 100 in 1965. Similar hits were recorded over the next two years.
Gary’s string of top ten singles snapped after seven consecutive records with the release of My Heart’s Symphony in the Summer of 1966. That record came close to the top ten, but sputtered when it reached #13 on the Hot 100.
Two more singles came out in 1966. The first single was You Don’t Have To Paint Me A Picture, which peaked at #15.
Where Will The Words Come From first got on the charts in December 1966. The single peaked at #21 in early 1967.
Gary had the misfortune of being drafted during the Vietnam War in 1967 and stationed in South Korea. His record label kept releasing additional singles that had already been recorded. One of the singles (Girls In Love) reached #39, while the others all missed the top forty.
Gary recorded a solo album in 1967 while still a draftee. The only single of note was Jill, which peaked at #52 and then vanished.
Gary recorded an album of covers with a new collection of Playboys after he left the army, but only one of them charted in the top forty. His version of Sealed With A Kiss reached #19 in 1968.
HIs next single struggled to even reach #63 and was his last visit to the Hot 100. Gary’s his career never fully recovered. By 1970, the Playboys disbanded.
In the eighties, Gary began appearing on the Oldies circuit. He became part of the Happy Together tours put on by ex-Turtles Flo and Eddie, and continues to tour with his most recent collection of Playboys.
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One thought on “1966 Gary Lewis and the Playboys – My Heart’s Symphony”
Always appreciate your work, no joke!
Of course, I have the complete Wrecking Crew audio/visual package (and, as a bass player, have had a nice correspondence with Carol Kaye–wow), but I’m not as familiar with Ron Hicklin. I did feel that it was uncalled for for him to comment in an interview on Gary’s poor voice and his role in the recordings. Unprofessional.
Don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but in his touring career, he at one point decided to sing–reminds me of when I heard my voice when my band cut our first demo–N.G. for sure.
He later reverted to using the Hicklin “backing”. I don’t see anything wrong with this practice at all. Maybe it’s better if people if don’t realize that there’s a difference between the recording and the touring group. Look, even the Stones used a substitute for Keef’s vocals, with his mic level turned to zero.
Katz of Super K asked me to be part of a touring group, but I was still in school. Nice guy to me, but maybe some people thought that of Morris Levy.
Anyway, enough about me. Hope that you’ve had a good day.