GUITARIST Alva 'Reggie' Lewis, a member of the influential Hippy Boys and Upsetters bands of the 1960s, died February 4 at age 63.
Lorna Wainwright of the Tuff Gong Group of Companies told the Jamaica Observer that Lewis had been ill for some time. She said he died at his St Andrew home but no cause of death has been given.
Lewis, who played on some of The Wailers' hit songs for producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry, was a regular at Tuff Gong for many years. Tuff Gong is owned by the family of reggae legend Bob Marley, a founding member of The Wailers.
Born in Manchester, Lewis moved to Kingston at age 16 and became part of the hot Greenwich Farm music scene in the late-1960s. Along with keyboardist Glen Adams, bass player Aston 'Family Man' Barrett and drummer Carlton Barrett, he formed the Hippy Boys, who were producer Sonia Pottinger's house band.
He actually started out as a singer with Adams, recording for Greenwich Farm producer Bunny Lee. Adams and Lewis eventually joined the Barrett brothers and developed a fruitful relationship with Lee and the eccentric Perry.
In an interview with American author David Katz for his book, Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae, Lewis said his first recording session for Lee in 1968 yielded two hits: Everybody Needs Love by Slim Smith and Strangejah Cole's Bangarang.
He also played on Return of Django, a big hit for Perry in the United Kingdom in 1969. Lewis toured the country that year as a member of The Upsetters.
Perry and the Upsetters had a brief but magical stint with The Wailers. They played on songs considered by musicologists to be the group's most potent songs, including the eerie Mr Brown, co-written by Adams.
Though he continued to record as a guitarist and artiste (Natty Natty was one of his songs) for Perry and dub visionary Augustus Pablo in the 1970s, Lewis fell off the session circuit during the latter stages of that decade.
Alva 'Reggie' Lewis is the third member of the Hippy Boys/Upsetters to die. Carlton Barrett was murdered in 1987 while Adams died in December 2011.