Linda Lewis, the British vocalist who enjoyed hits in the 1970s with “It’s In His Kiss” and others, and was the envy of fellow singers due to her five-octave range, died Wednesday (May 3) at 72.
The tragic news was confirmed by her sister, Dee Lewis Clay. “It is with the greatest sadness and regret we share the news that our beloved beautiful sister Linda Lewis passed away today peacefully at her home,” she writes on social media. “The family asks that you respect our privacy and allow us to grieve at this heartbreaking time.”
Born Linda Ann Fredericks in West Ham, London, Lewis attended stage school, and landed film roles, including a part as a screaming fan in Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night.
Later, fans would scream for Lewis, as she reeled off U.K. hits through the 1970s with “Rock-A-Doodle-Doo,” “It’s In His Kiss,” “Baby I’m Yours” and “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You.”
Written and composed by Rudy Clark, “It’s In His Kiss” would give Lewis a U.K. top 10 appearance, peaking at No. 6 in 1975, and a spot on the Billboard Hot 100, at No. 96.
Lewis’ extraordinary range, and her gifts across folk, soul, pop and reggae, would catch the attention of rock music’s superstars, including David Bowie and Rod Stewart, both of whom recruited her for backing vocals. She would also work with the likes Joan Armatrading, Basement Jaxx, Turin Brakes and Jamiroquai.
Covers and samples of her work has been artists including Joss Stone and Common.
Across her career, Lewis cut ten studio album, including Say No More, her 1971 debut, which was inspired by living with fellow artists in a commune in Hampstead, north London, a place where Cat Stevens (later Yusuf Islam), Marc Bolan and Elton John would drop by.
In 2002, Warner Music released a collection of her ‘70s music, Reach for the Truth. The following year, BMG issued a career retrospective The Best of Linda Lewis, and later, the 3-CD boxed set Legends, including hits and rarities. In 2017, to celebrate her 50th anniversary in the music business, Lewis released Funky Bubbles, a 5-CD box set including rarities and live versions.
The music community is paying tribute to the late singer. “Really sad to hear this,” writes Ultravox frontman Midge Ure in a social post. “I had a massive crush on Linda Lewis. ‘Not a little girl anymore’ was a great song and beautifully sung by her.”
Mike Scott, frontman of British band The Waterboys, tweets: “Very sorry to hear about the death of British singer Linda Lewis. She was fabulous.”
Sex Pistols bass player Glen Matlock added that Linda was “lovely.”
Armatrading writes, “I’m so sad to hear of the death of Linda Lewis. She had a beautiful voice and was a really lovely person.”
French indie pop band Tahiti 80 remembers Lewis as a talent “like no one else.” A post from the band reads, “Very sad to hear of Linda Lewis’s passing. We were lucky enough to collaborate with Linda on Your Love Shines on Fosbury. She sang like no one else. I discovered her music in Japan and was instantly hooked. Collaborating with her was such a high.”