Jazz Musician, Michael Andre Lewis
Organ player Michael Andre Lewis was born in Omaha in 1948 and grew up in a musical family. Lewis’s father played saxophone with Count Basie, served as bandleader to Fats Domino and Etta James, and also played locally with Preston Love’s orchestra. As small children, Lewis and friend, future blues legend, Buddy Miles, joined a local singing group, BeBop, and later won a statewide talent contest in Nebraska. Lewis formed his first group, Mike Lewis and the Kingbees, in 7th grade. Still in his early teens, Lewis toured as a backing musician with the Orlons and Sam Cooke. At 15, Lewis fronted the Mike Lewis Quartet and appeared on the bill with jazz icons, like Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. His next band, Andre Lewis and the New Breed, pioneered the new fusion sound that was emerging in the mid-1960s. Lewis went on to tour and record several albums with Buddy Miles. In addition, he did session work for Labelle, The Who, Sly & the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Lewis left Miles to form Maxayn, a pioneering black rock band that put out three albums. During this period, Lewis also performed with Frank Zappa, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Leon Russell. In the mid-1970s, Lewis signed with Motown, where he performed and recorded as Mandré, the “artists from outer space.” The synth-heavy group recorded four albums. Lewis continued to play and tour in a variety of settings, and produce music by other artists from his home studio until his death in 2012.
Great Plains Black History Museum, North Omaha History Harvest, 2011
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