Jona Lewie

Musically brilliant, intelligent (he has a Degree in Psychology!) Jona Lewie is also a seasoned solo performer, standing head and shoulders above his peers. See him perform and you’ll realise why he’s destined to remain a coveted British institution. His name is also synonymous with Christmas, via his massive seasonal hit ‘Stop The Cavalry’ (for which he won the coveted Ivor Novello award) – which was actually a Summertime hit in France!


Another of his most memorable songs is ‘You’ll Always Find Him In The Kitchen At Parties’, recently used for a TV ad campaign for IKEA UK, though originally a hit in 1980.

Jona’s first taste of band life was when he was 17. He was known as plain old John Lewis then. The band, which was called The Corsairs was a rhythm and blues group who had also backed rock n roll icon, Gene Vincent on stage.


Lewie first played professionally in 1968 as a solo singer-songwriter, blues pianist and vocalist in the London circuit of legendary blues and folk clubs such as 100 Club in Oxford Street, The Troubador in Putney and Les Cousins in Greek Street, Soho.


His first professional gig came about because Dave Brock, who went on to form Hawkwind a few years later, took Jona to a hippy dive in Charing Cross Road where Jona got up and walked over to a piano and started to pound some boogie-woogie whereupon he bought the house down. Amongst fans of Jona’s playing are Jools Holland and the late Joe Strummer of The Clash


Jona’s blues piano playing was in demand and he backed Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup (‘That’s Alright Mama’ , etc for Elvis Presley,) throughout his album ‘Roebuck Man' on United Artists along with Tom McGuiness of The Manfreds, Hughie Flint from McGuiness-Flint, Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle who in later years were successful as Gallagher and Lyle.


Jona continued to write songs with Brett Marvin & The Thinderbolts and wrote one on an accordion which he presented to the band. It became known as ‘Seaside Shuffle’.  The boys decided to change the name of the band to ‘Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs’ for this particular track. The record reached Number 2 in the UK charts a year after it was initially released.


By 1977 Jona Lewie had signed to Stiff Records whose ground-breaking approach had already by then made them a legendary label in the Music Business. Jona immediately embarked on his first ever solo album, called ‘On The Other Hand There’s A Fist’ and the original release in 1978 came to enjoy cult status in the USA whose magazine ‘Billboard’ showed it got on to a lot of underground radio play lists. By the summer of 1978, Jona was invited to take part in the infamous Be Stiff ’78 Train Tour, along with Lene Lovich, Rachel Sweet, Wreckless Eric and Micky Jupp. The package then went on to play twice nightly, for a week, at The Bottom Line, New York.


In 1980 Stiff Records released ‘You’ll Always Find Him In The Kitchen At Parties’ and ‘Stop The Cavalry’ both of which became big hits in various countries throughout the world for Jona.  Various other titles of Jona’s also became hits in various countries notably Louise, Big Shot Momentarily, I Think I’ll Get My Haircut and The Seed That Always Died.


Jona stayed with Stiff Records until their demise when Dave Robinson was forced to liquidate the label in 1987. Jona became the longest serving act at Stiff and, even out of such luminaries as Madness, Elvis Costello, and Ian Dury, was one of its most successful artists in Europe.


Now, he’s back in the driving seat….