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Journeyman Musician Eliot Lewis Enjoying The Ride



Backing Up Daryl Hall & John Oates Has Had Its Share of Advantages

By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer

Long before he graduated high school Eliot Lewis sensed he was destined to be a lifetime musician. The son of a classical pianist Lewis began beating the drums in fifth grade, learning to play guitar, bass, and keyboards while still in his teens. At 60 his God given talents have proved well for an all-around musician who has spent the majority of his adult life backing some of the most renowned artists to emerge during the rock n’ roll era, including a current two-decade stint with Daryl Hall & John Oates.

“I was exposed to music very early on. And it wasn’t so much that I chose music, rather music chose me. I started playing drums when I was 10 and right then and there, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Frankly I never considered any other path.”

A Connecticut native Lewis was just 12 when he and friends formed their own band Take Off. As fate would have it, one of the band members fathers worked with several record labels and exposed the young lads to big name artists in the 1970’s which led them to a jam session with an overnight sensation.

Few teenagers enjoyed as much access to artists as Lewis did during the 1970’s. “Because my friend’s father was in the record industry we went backstage at many shows, mostly at Madison Square Garden. I grew up in Connecticut and New York City wasn’t that far away. Here I am just 14 or 15 years old and meeting Alice Cooper and Elton John. I’m meeting many of these artists at the pinnacle of their success.”

While Lewis admits to being starstruck on several occasions he was still a typical young person when he met a future superstar. “Peter Frampton came to my friend’s house and basically played a jam session. He was downstairs in a music room doing what he does best, playing guitar. I was 13 at the time and like most kids had a short attention span. I sensed he was great, but he wasn’t the worldwide phenomenon he would become less than a year later when ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ took the industry by storm.”

Whether it was through his friends, rubbing elbows with music legends, or just fate, Lewis felt he was heading in the right direction. “I’ve had an incredible ride and it began early on. Around 16 I started songwriting, and I picked up the guitar and soon did my best to add keyboards. I wasn’t quite sure what direction I was heading in, whether I wanted to be an artist or just a working musician but nonetheless I knew music is what I wanted to do for a living.”

By the 1980’s and just in his mid 20’s Lewis was already enjoying a burgeoning career. Through mutual acquaintances he met established singer songwriter and producer Dan Hartman who had his own chart success with the Edgar Winter Group and as a solo artist before albums working on albums such as Joe Cocker’s ‘Unchain My Heart’ and Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’. Collaborating with Hartman in and around the recording studio put Lewis on the fast track.

Before the 1980’s came to a close Lewis found himself as a touring member in the Scottish funk and R&B group Average White Band (Pick Up the Pieces, Cut the Cake). The gig would last 13 years. “I ended up in Average White Band by default. Through several contacts I began writing with them, really more with Alan Gorrie who is one of founding members, and before I knew it I was travelling the world as a backup musician in the band.”

Lewis didn’t put an end date on his time with AWB. “I’m a musician, so to be working at what I love to do in a band that had credibility was like stepping onto a thrill ride. We were travelling the world, playing year after year. The best part about the experience was the experience I gained playing live and being out on the road. It was all new to me at the time.”

By 2002 Lewis was ready to re-focus on his own music. However, less than a year later he reconsidered when Hall & Oates came a knocking. “Certainly, it was an offer to irresistible to pass up. They’re one of the biggest bands to come along during the rock n’ roll era and arguably the biggest duo of all time. So yes, it was hard to say no to that.”

He adds, “It’s been a great gig. I’m going on nearly two decades with Daryl and John. Obviously, they had a very long run prior to me joining the band, but they treat everyone like family. I’m having a blast and they let me do my thing, which is very inviting to a musician.”

Just how did Lewis go from AWB to one of the sweetest gigs a journeyman musician could ever ask for. “Daryl and Alan know each other. Daryl would come and see their shows, so we first we were first introduced that way. They had a need and I guess I was a good fit for what they were looking for. It didn’t hurt that I could play several instruments.”

As if being a part of Hall & Oates wasn’t enough, Lewis was beyond thrilled when Daryl asked him to join in when he launched (2007) the now popular ‘Live from Daryl’s House’ (LFDH), an online and televised music series that features Hall performing with his band and various guest artists at his home in Millerton, New York.

Hall withstanding, Lewis has the most tenure on LFDH. “Aside from Daryl I’m the longest running musician in LFDH. It’s opened so many more doors for me. The wealth of talent and musicianship who have taken part on the show is mind-blowing. I’ve gotten to hang out with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Ben Folds, Joe Walsh, and the legendary Smokey Robinson. Daryl like myself has a great appreciation for various types of music and different genres, so the guests who sit in come from all backgrounds.”

Lewis appreciated the few times Daryl took the show on the road. “We went to Cabo to jam with Sammy Hagar, Charleston (SC) with Darius Rucker, Hawaii to rock with Todd Rundgren, and California to play with Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors. The show is comfortable from Daryl’s house, but if need be, he’ll come to you.”

Over 13 years and 80 episodes LFDH has allowed Lewis to share the stage with Tommy Shaw, Nick Lowe, Jason Mraz, Grace Potter, Aaron Neville, and rock icons Cheap Trick. “I have to admit I’m a huge Cheap Trick fan. When they’ve showed up, I started talking guitars with Rick Nielsen, and he was amazed of how much I knew about the history of the band.”

He goes on to say, “Each episode might be 45 minutes to an hour, but it takes all day to shoot them. I guess I had corrected Nielsen so many times that at one point Robin (Zander) looked over at me and said is that right. Rick and the guys took it all in stride. What can I say I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to jam with musicians like Cheap Trick and all the others that have accepted Daryl’s offer.”

After nearly a two-year hiatus mainly due to the pandemic Lewis says LFDH is about to crank up again. “Daryl said after this summer tour he’s ready to get back at it.” Are there a few icons Lewis would welcome playing alongside when it starts rolling. “The list is long, Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Page come to mind. There’s talk of Eric Clapton maybe taking part. Daryl puts out the invite, but it has to work out logistically for the artists. It has to do with scheduling more than anything else.”

Daryl Hall and Todd Rundgren bring their joint tour to Charleston on Thursday August 11th at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. “It’s a great tour and a great show for fans of both artists. Daryl and Todd go way back. Todd has been on LFDH two times. They both basically use the same band. I’ve backed Todd many times.”

Hall has been releasing solo albums since the 1980’s and plays many from his personal catalog when he’s not touring with Oates. However, Lewis says diehard Hall & Oates will enjoy a few made popular by the duo. “Daryl doesn’t disappoint. He adds four or five songs from their long list of hits into his set. He may change it up a bit or two, but he usually plays ‘Sara Smile’, ‘Can’t Go for That’, and ‘Make My Dreams Come True’.”

Lewis may have been performing for the past 33 years backing both Average White Band and currently Hall & Oates, but in his free time he does record his own music and perform. “I’ve been doing it for years. It’s challenging and limited at best mainly because I have to work around the band’s schedule. It’s obviously easier when I’m not out on tour with the band.”

He adds it’s tricky at best. “It’s all about booking. On occasion I’m able to book a gig on an off night if it works out when we’re on tour. When I’m done, I’ll catch back up with them at the next tour stop.” When performing solo, it’s usually just Lewis. “Primarily, I’m a multi-instrumentalist and fill my sound using looping technology. On a few occasions Brian (Dunne) our drummer has joined me on my shows.”

Lewis is aware many may not be familiar with him, but he continues to attract fans when he plays solo dates. “I have a small following. The bottom line for me is I love to play, and I love to share my music. I’m having the time of my life. I get to tour with Hall & Oates who easily have some of the greatest pop hits ever, and I get to do my own music as well. How lucky can one person be. I’m living that dream I first imagined when I started playing drums at age 10.”

Not only is Lewis a gifted musician he is a noted photographer, using his travels to help satisfy his passion. For more on Eliot Lewis’ music and photography visit

Daryl Hall and his band along with special guest Todd Rundgren perform live at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center 7:30pm on Thursday August 11th. For more on the show and tickets visit

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