Hello, Smiley Lewis was born Overton Amos Lemons on July 5, 1913 in DeQuincy, Louisiana. He never did chart a hit record on the pop charts but did grace the Billboard R&B chart four times. His first R&B hit was his 1952 recording of THE BELLS ARE RINGING on Imperial Records, the single charted at #10. His next recording to become a hit is his 1955 R&B classsic, I HEAR YOU KNOCKING.
On September 3, 1955 the single made its R&B debut on the Billboard chart. The song written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King and recorded for Imperial Records also featured Huey “Piano” Smith on piano. The single became an R&B smash, climbing all the way to #2 and remaining on the R&B chart for 18 weeks. Many to this day consider Smiley Lewis’s recording as the ultimate recording of this classic hit.
Pop female singer/actress Gale Storm would record a cover version of I HEAR YOU KNOCKING on Dot Records. Her version would become a huge pop hit on the Billboard Top 100, climbing the chart to #2 and remaining on the Top 100 for 18 weeks. It was also her first hit single record. She (as many artists) would cover other R&B hits and have pop hits with them. Her version also became a #3 hit on the Cash Box magazine, Best-Selling Record chart.
Fats Domino also recorded I HEAR YOU KNOCKING in 1955, but his version was not released on a single record until 1961 when it charted at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis were recording for Imperial Records in 1955.
There is one more charted version of the classic R&B hit and that one was recorded by Welsh singer/songwriter, Dave Edmunds. His version, on MAM Records, was true in style to the original recording. The single charted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971 and became a #1 hit on the UK Singles Chart for six weeks at Christmas, in 1970.
Smiley Lewis charted two other hit records on the R&B chart in 1956, they are…ONE NIGHT-#11 and PLEASE LISTEN TO ME-#9. They would be his last two charted hit records. Through the years other top artists have recorded their versions on various singles and albums including, Bryan Adams, Alvin Lee, Billy Swan, Shakin Stevens and Jerry Lee Lewis to name a few. Smiley Lewis’s version is still heard on oldies radio and remains a true R&B classic from the greatest era in pop music…”THE GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL”.
Till the next time—Joe