The Other Al Lewis

This post is so titled to differentiate its subject from the guy who played Grandpa Munster. THIS Al Lewis (1901-1967) was a tin pan alley songwriter, mostly a lyricist, whose career spanned over four decades.

A New York native, Lewis was originally partnered with Al Sherman (father of the Sherman Brothers of Disney fame), with whom he cowrote such songs as “He’s So Unusual” (1929, performed by Helen Kane), the EPICALLY wonderful “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” (1930, sung by guys like Maurice Chevalier and Bing Crosby back in the day but nowadays associated with Tiny Tim and Sponge Bob); “Ninety-Nine Out a Hundred” (1931, a hit for Rudy Vallee), “Now’s the Time to Fall in Love” (1933, a hit for Eddie Cantor, who performed many of their tunes), and the still popular “You’ve Gotta be a Football Hero” (1933, which you’ve almost certainly heard played by marching bands at football games).

From 1931 to 1934, the height of their careers as songwriters, Lewis and Sherman toured what was left of the Keith and Loew’s vaudeville circuits as part of an act called “Songwriters on Parade”. They also appeared in a 1933 film short now available on Youtube, with Lewis on vocals, Sherman on the piano. Their songs were also used in lots of animated cartoons for Fleischer (esp. Betty Boop) and Warner Brothers (Merry Melodies, etc).

Lewis’s career extended well past the tin pan alley era. His 1940 song “Blueberry Hill” co-written with Larry Stock, was a 1956 hit for Fats Domino (among others), and “Tears on My Pillow”, written with Sylvester Bradford, was a 1958 hit for Little Anthony and the Imperials. TV impresario Don Kirshner got his start in the music business working for Lewis.

To learn more about vaudevilleplease read No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous