Jona Lewie (born John Lewis, 14 March 1947, Southampton) is an English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Jona Lewie joined his first group, The Johnston City Jazz Band, while still at school in 1963, and by 1968 had become a blues & boogie singer and piano player. In 1969, as a singer/songwriter, he contributed compositions and recordings for the compilation album, I Asked For Water She Gave Me . . . Gasoline on the Liberty/UA label. Other compositions in 1969 were for the album, These Blues is Meant to Be Barrel Housed, on the Yazoo/Blue Goose label in New York -- still as a solo artist known as John Lewis.
In 1969 he became acquainted with the blues band, Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, which was holding a residency at London's Studio 51 club, joining as a vocalist and piano player. Brett Marvin signed to the Robert Stigwood Agency in 1970, and Jona Lewie, as part of the band, appeared on television in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, and in 1971 performed in a concert with Son House and supported Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes on a UK tour. Lewie stayed with Brett Marvin until 1973, its mainstream hit single being "Seaside Shuffle", another Lewie composition, released under the one-off nom de disque Terry Dactyl and The Dinosaurs. The record did little on first release in 1971, but in 1972 a re-release reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart., aided by a marketing and distribution agreement for the song between Terry Dactyl's record label, Sonet, and Jonathan King's UK label. Subsequent Lewie composed singles for Terry Dactyl and Sonet, "On a Saturday Night" and "She Left; I Died", didn't achieve chart success.
Lewie looked likely to remain a part of a one-hit wonder group until he was signed up by Stiff Records in 1977. In 1980, following appearances on the Stiff package tours, he had a solo hit with the humorous synthpop number, "You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties" co-written with fellow Brett Marvin member Keef Trouble, which made the British Top 20. His next single, "Big Shot -- Momentarily", was a hit in Germany but not in the UK. By the end of 1980 he was back in the British charts with what became his biggest UK hit, "Stop the Cavalry". His subsequent 1981 release, "Louise (We Get It Right)", was not a UK hit, but reached no. 2 in Australia, and achieved chart success in other world territories. His song, "Vous et Moi", charted in France.
Although now one of Britain's and Germany's most familiar Christmas singles, "Stop the Cavalry" was not originally intended as a Christmas song (it had got to no. 1 in France in the summer). In Britain, however, it was released in late November after Stiff Records noticed a line referring to the festival -- "I wish I was at home for Christmas" -- and the specific style of brass instruments and bells in the chorus as a "Christmas-style" theme. The single reached no. 3 behind The St.Winifred's School Choir and John Lennon in the Christmas chart. The tune and style of "Stop the Cavalry" was later parodied for a series of humorous TV adverts for John Smith's Beer.
During the 1990s Lewie appeared with solo public performances on a short UK tour as special support guest of The Blues Band, playing venues such as theatres and civic centres, while occasionally playing one-off gigs such as that at the Hackney Empire, London and taking part in occasional radio and television broadcasts. In December 2005, he appeared in Channel 4's Bring Back...The Christmas Number One, along with David Essex and Slade (all of whom had big Christmas Number Ones.) They only fronted, but did not play at, the studio recording session of "I'm Going Home". It failed to secure a record deal. It was written by ex-Mud star Rob Davis, who also appeared on the show and who co-wrote (with Cathy Dennis) the international million-selling "Can't Get You out of My Head" for Kylie Minogue. In 2009 Lewie performed two songs at the London Ukulele Festival.
edit "Kitchen at Parties"
The 1980 song and Lewie's first hit record, "Kitchen at Parties", was written for Stiff Records by Jona Lewie (melody) and Keef Trouble (lyrics) for the album, On the Other Hand There's a Fist. The song became a UK no. 16 single hit record. Lewie added a new story-line ending to Trouble's lyrics. He wrote the melody on a multi-timbre polyphonic Polymoog in his home 8-track studio, and played on and recorded the backing track entirely himself, apart from bass guitar from Norman Watt-Roy (of Ian Dury and the Blockheads) and additional hi-hat percussion from Bob Andrews. The female backing vocal in the song's chorus was not the voice of Kirsty MacColl as is sometimes believed, but the voices of the wives of Andrews and Dave Robinson (the owner of Stiff Records). MacColl's only involvement was when she appeared a few times on TV with Lewie to mime/perform the vocal chorus. However, Karen O'Brien's official biography, Kirsty MacColl: The One and Only, claimed this as MacColl's first vocal backing recording for Stiff Records.
This song also appears in the background of the party in The Young Ones episode, "Interesting", just before Neil gets beaten up by Vyv's mates.
In 2010 the track was used to advertise Ikea's kitchens. The advert, the full version of which ran to three minutes, featured the group Man Like Me walking around a party in a house comprising only kitchens while singing a new version of the song. Lewie himself appears in the ad as the host of the party.