Gary Lewis was born in Waco, Texas, but his early exposure to music was not a guitar.
“I started out playing tuba in the school band when I was in sixth grade,” Lewis says. “I played tuba for six years.” His mother bought his first guitar for Christmas when he was thirteen. “Neither of my parents played instruments,” he says, “but they encouraged us. My brothers and sisters played trumpet and drums.”
He is largely self-taught on guitar and for one year between high school and the military, he played bass in several bands in the Corpus Christie area. After two tours of Vietnam courtesy of the U.S. Navy, he put music on the backburner until discovering the music scene in Bandera in 1988.
“The first place I found was the Silver Dollar,” Lewis says. “Doug Livingston heard me sing and let me get up on the bandstand. Kenneth Stroud at the old Forge got me in there on the Sunday jams.” He moved to Bandera permanently in 2009.
Lewis has no formal vocal training, but he credits his clear, pure baritone to “a little Baptist church” and his mother, who sang in the church choir, for developing the talent he calls, “. . . what God gave me.”
Influences like Faron Young, Don Gibson, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Wynn Stewart (“It’s Such A Pretty World Today”) contributed to his singing style. “In Corpus we opened for Stewart.” Not surprisingly, he named his own band “The Night Life Band” (including Hall of Famers, Tooter Ripps and Byron Zipp), after the Ray Price hit written by another hero of his, Willie Nelson.
Other Bandera musicians use terms like “great ear”, “great technique”, “quick” and “disciplined” to describe Zipp.
Lewis plays local venues like the Silver Dollar, events for the Chamber of Commerce and private parties. “Music is strictly a pleasure,” he states, “but don’t think anyone who picks up a guitar doesn’t have aspirations that maybe they might hit the big time.”
Rough Cuts Gary Lewis - It Don't Hurt Anymore