Linda Lewis Dies: Singer For Yusuf/Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Rod Stewart Was 72


British singer Linda Lewis, who scored a string UK solo hits in the 1970s but is most widely known as one of the era’s most in-demand back-up singers who recorded with Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, David Bowie, T. Rex and Rod Stewart, died at her home on May 3. She was 72.

Her death was announced by her sister, singer Dee Lewis Clay. A cause of death was not specified, but Lewis Clay noted that her sister died peacefully.

Born Linda Ann Fredericks in West Ham, London, Lewis experienced her first brush with show business with a non-speaking acting role in the 1961 film A Taste of Honey and, in 1964, as a screaming fan of the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night.

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Making her most notable early appearance as a singer at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, Lewis would go on to have a lengthy, decades-long recording and performing career, with four top-40 UK hit singles that included 1973’s “Rock-A-Doodle-Doo” and, in 1975, “It’s In His Kiss,” a disco version of “The Shoop Shoop Song.”

Her five-octave vocal range and versatile phrasing made her a favorite of the British pop vanguard in the 1970s. She sang back-up on David Bowie’s 1973 classic Aladdin Sane, Rod Stewart’s Blondes Have More Fun (1978) and Tonight I’m Yours (1981), and Rick Wakeman’s Lisztomania (1975), to name just a sampling.

One of her most successful collaborations came with her then-boyfriend Cat Stevens. In addition to providing vocals on Stevens’ 1972 album Catch Bull At Four, Lewis accompanied Stevens on a 1974 world tour. Stevens wrote the song “(Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard” for Lewis, which she recorded in 1975. Stevens had a hit with the song in 1977.

In a tweet last night, Yusuf/Cat Stevens paid tribute to Lewis, calling her “a good soul-friend and fine artist.”

“Her flat on Hampstead Way was a regular home for artist and musicians in the 70’s,” he wrote. “Linda became my personal support act during the ‘Bamboozle Tour’ of 1974, and travelled with our troupe all over the world, up to Japan. What a voice! I produced a couple of her records, and she sang the sweetest melody on my ballad, ‘How Can I Tell You’ as well as the chorus on ‘Angelsea’. Linda was like an amazing bird that kindly visited the window sill of our earthly house for a few days, then flew away back to her garden.”

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