Linda Lewis, singer-songwriter and famous backup singer, dies at the age of 72

Photo credit: David Tomaseti

British singer-songwriter and famous backup singer Linda Lewis, whose career spanned more than 40 years, has died at the age of 72.

Linda Lewis, the British singer-songwriter best known for her five-octave vocal range and backing vocals, has died aged 72. Her family confirmed her death on Wednesday night, and her sister shared the same News on social media.

“It is with the utmost sadness and regret that we share the news that our beloved beautiful sister Linda Lewis passed away peacefully at her home today,” her sister Dee Lewis Clay wrote. “The family asks that you respect our privacy and allow us to mourn at this heartbreaking time.”

With an incredible vocal range that has often compared her to Mariah Carey and Minnie Riperton, Linda Lewis found success as a solo artist in the 1970s and a long career spanning 40 years and as backing vocals for the likes of Rod Stewart and David Bowie worried.

Born Linda Ann Fredericks in 1950, she attended stage school and pursued acting. In the first Beatles film, she appeared as a screaming fan. The night of a hard day, in 1964. After signing with Polydor, Linda adopted Lewis as her surname in honor of singer Barbara Lewis, a surname her two sisters and mother would later adopt. She played guitar and keyboard, both self-taught.

Linda Lewis performed at the inaugural Glastonbury Festival in 1970 and had four Top 40 hits over the following decade. Her biggest hit was “It’s In His Kiss,” a cover of a 1963 song that Cher later made famous as “The Shoop Shoop Song.”

Lewis lived with a group of musicians and other artists on a commune in Hampstead, in a house frequented by Yusuf Cat Stevens, Elton John and Marc Bolan. She toured with Yusuf, then known as Cat Stevens, and dated him for several years.

In 1977 she married musician Jim Cregan, but the marriage lasted only three years. Lewis wrote, “We were too separated, especially after Jim Rod joined Stewart’s band, and we were both unfaithful.”

Lewis provided backing vocals for David Bowie Aladdin Sane album as well as for artists like Rod Stewart, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Rick Wakeman, Joan Armatrading and Jamiroquai.

“Looking back, I realize I’ve lived an extraordinarily rich life,” Lewis wrote in her memoir. “Would I do it all over again if I had a chance? No. Would I do any of this again? Surely.”

Linda Lewis is survived by her husband, music agent Neil Warnock, whom she married in 2004.