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George Lewis and Bunk Johnson
George Lewis and Bunk Johnson, Stuyvesant Casino, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946 (William P. Gottlieb Collection)

George Lewis (July 13, 1900 – December 31, 1968) was one of the Jazz musicians who didn’t leave New Orleans in the 1920s. He stayed and played with the Black Eagle Band , Buddy Petit , the Eureka Brass Band , Kid Rena , The Olympia Orchestra and other New Orleans groups. He was with Bunk Johnson in a group led by Evan Thomas in the early 1930s, but had a day job throughout most of the decade.

When Johnson was “re-discovered” in 1942, Lewis became part of Bunk’s band, playing with him on and off until 1945 and leading his own sessions during 1943-45. Lewis returned to New Orleans in 1946. He played locally with his own group and in 1950, Look magazine wrote an article about him. That exposure led to him becoming one of the most popular figures of the Dixieland revival of the 1950s and 1960s.


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