On July 14, Stanley J. Lewis passed away at 91 years old in Ruston, LA with family by his side. Known affectionately as “Stan the Record Man,” he was singlehandedly responsible for Shreveport becoming “The Record Center of the South.” Lewis contributed immensely to the music industry in Louisiana.
In 1948, Lewis and his wife founded Stan’s Record Shop, a small record store that eventually expanded to include six locations, a nationwide mail-order and distribution service, ticket sales and record labels. In the 1950s, Lewis sponsored radio shows that featured blues and gospel records available for mail-order. He played Etta James and Elvis Presley, deemed cutting-edge and controversial artists at the time.
He developed a loyal customer base including Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. He also collaborated with Leonard Chess of Chicago, who was inspired to release records by Shreveport musicians including “Susie-Q” by Dale Hawkins. Lewis was credited as a co-writer for the song.
His son, Lenny Lewis, said that his father always made a point to be involved in Stan’s Record Shops. “He came from nothing and he was so appreciative of for the customers,” Lenny Lewis said.
Lewis founded three record labels: Jewel, Paula and Ronn. Some of the best known songs released by Lewis’s labels include “Nothing Takes the Place of You” by Toussaint McCall, “Judy in Disguise” by John Fred and His Playboy Band and “All These Things” by Joe Stampley and The Uniques. Lewis was instrumental in popularizing music from Louisiana and drawing national attention to African-American rhythm and blues and gospel musicians.
By 1973, Lewis had over 200 employees that handled the distribution of over 600 record labels. His business was so large that Billboard music magazine cited it as the largest freight user and greatest customer of the Post Office in the southeastern United States.
In 2003, Lewis received a Lifetime Achievement Award from OffBeat. He was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 2009 and was honored with three “Stan The Record Man” music festivals from 2014 to 2016 held by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
Lewis passed away with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren by his side. He was 91 years old. In lieu flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN or Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, LA. Visitation will be held on Wednesday July 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Roseneath Funeral Home at 1815 Marshall Street in Shreveport.
For more information, read this obituary from the Shreveport Times.