RIP: Daryl Lewis of the Six Teens, the Elgins, the Bagdads, and more..

Daryl Lewis, a member of the Six Teens, the Elgins, the Elements, the Bagdads, and the Truth Messengers has passed away on November 10th at the age of 72 years old from lung cancer.

He was one of the many people I’ve interviewed for the LOUIE documentary project. His first band, the Six Teens, a teenage vocal group that came together in the 1950s, was a group that found themselves on the national charts while signed to Flip Records, which was also the home for Richard Berry when he released the very first recording of the song LOUIE LOUIE.

Daryl Lewis was born Albert Nash Jr. in 1939 in Los Angeles. His name was changed when he was adopted by his stepfather at age 13. Legendary jazz musician Charles Mingus was the brother of his mother, making him one of Daryl’s uncles.

At the age of 16, Daryl was invited to sing bass with the Six Teens. The Six Teens were originally five teens and one pre-teen. Ed Wells, the leader and songwriter of the group sang baritone, Kenneth Sinclair was first tenor, Darryl Lewis sang bass, Beverly Pecot sang soprano, and Louise Williams sang alto. Louise’s younger sister Trudy Williams, who had been casually brought along to a rehearsal, wound up singing lead vocals, joining the band at the age of 12. She turned 13 when the band began recording for Flip Records.

Their first release- “A Casual Look,” which came out in March 1956, became a Top Forty hit, reaching #25 on the national Pop charts, as well as #7 on R&B charts.

As the Sacramento Bee mentioned in an obituary for Daryl, the Six Teens discovered success at an early part of their career:

“The next thing I knew, they were putting suits on us, and we were playing the Hollywood Palladium with Fats Domino and the Coasters,” he told The Bee in 2009.

The youngsters performed in Los Angeles with big stars of the day, including Johnny Otis, Sam Cooke, Frankie Lymon, LaVern Baker and the Righteous Brothers. In 1957, they got top billing over Frankie Avalon at a show in Hawaii, where their single “Send Me Flowers” was a hit.

“It was the beginning of true R&B,” Mr. Lewis said in 2009. “They were just starting to separate pop and R&B. Our songs were pretty simple, with strong melodies and pretty clean lyrics.”

The Six Teens recorded about a dozen songs with Flip Records, but nothing came to close to the success of their very first record. Seeking to find some success with other musical groups, Daryl linked up with fellow Six Teens member Kenneth Sinclair to create a new group to record with Flip that would be known as the Elgins.

In the course of time, Daryl and Kenneth recorded a variety of songs for various record labels. Jimmie Davis, who was the second singer to join the Six Teens after Ken left the group, joined Daryl and Ken in a new band known as the Elgins. In 1960, the band moved over to the Titan record label, where they changed the name of their band to the Elements. Their first recording was a single of an original song known as “Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

I can’t help but wonder if Paul McCartney might have been inspired to use the title of that particular record as a theme for a highly-infuential album that came out seven years later. It would certainly be a long shot, but stranger things have happened…

As HarmonyTrain.com pointed out, Daryl and Kenneth did a lot of recordings under a lot of different group names – the Bagdads, the Daniels, returning back to the Elgins group name more than once.

In 1971, Ken joined up with the Olympics, where he stayed for over 30 years before his death.

Daryl moved to Sacramento, CA and began a non-musical career with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), while pursuing his music on the side. Once he settled in his new location he established his own publishing company, LaceCap Records. One of his greatest accomplishments was getting a song he produced titled “Keepa Dancing” included in the movie “Rumble Fish” a 1983 film produced by Francis Ford Coppola.

Daryl also formed a gospel group, the Truth Messengers, and recorded various religious CDs celebrating his faith. He wrote and recorded songs about social issues, while also participating in various money-raising projects to help the homeless people.

In 1997 Daryl received a call from Ken Sinclair, who was getting some serious offers to reunite the Elgins. While performing with the Olympics at an event for “The United in Group Harmony Association” (UGHA) in New Jersey, Ken struck up a conversation with the promoters about his old band. Ken didn’t realize that “Uncle Sam’s Man” by the Elgins was a major hit record in New Jersey, and the promoters were ecstatic about a chance to reunite the band. One thing led to another, and both the Elgins and the Six Teens were reunited for some very special shows.

I had my chance to see The Six Teens and Elgins when they played a show for the Doo Wop Society of Southern California in 1998 at the Petroleum Club in Long Beach. Ed Wells, the original leader of this band, was too sick to attend any of the reunions, but it was still an unforgettable, throughly entertaining performance.

I was fortunate to conduct an interview with Daryl Lewis, Ken Sinclair, and Jimmy Davis. The provided with some great stories of performing as a successful teen group in the 1950s, and what it was like to work with Flip Records. A few years ago, I posted a video clip of Daryl and Ken singing one of their signature Six Teens songs, which you can see here..


http://youtu.be/h0IZRzb3BUc

Now both Daryl and Ken are both gone, and I’m reminded how privileged I was to have an opportunity to capture some of their stories for posterity, which I’ll be sharing when I finally wrap up this LOUIE project.

Rest in peace, Daryl.

For more on the life of Daryl Lewis, please check out these other articles:

Sacramento Bee – Daryl Lewis obituary

Official webpage – Darryl Lewis: Original Member of The Elgins and The Six Teens

Ace Records – The Six Teens

Vocal Group Harmony Website – Spotlight on the Six Teens

Marvin Goldberg’s R&B Notebooks – The Six Teens

RB Vocal Groups Harmony Train – The Elgins

Color Radio – Bryan Lee with the Elgins

Top Shelf obituary on Daryl Lewis

1 comment to RIP: Daryl Lewis of the Six Teens, the Elgins, the Bagdads, and more..

  • Marc

    Wow! I am from Sacramento and have always loved the song ‘Bring back those doo-wops’. I first heard it when I was in a foster home in 1972. I was playing it last night and decided to look up the Bagdads…Thank for the memories to all of the Bagdads and rest in peace…Love to all

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