The rock world has lost a great voice and talent as former Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist James Lewis has died. The news was confirmed on social media by Dan Roth, who revealed that the musician had passed on Monday (May 23).
In a social media posting, Roth wrote, “Today we lost one of the best vocalists and human beings I have ever known…James Lewis. Though he most famously toured and recorded with Trans-Siberian Orchestra for several years, he was one of most down-to-earth people I had ever met. When he lived in New York, he and I would hang out often, laughing and just having a blast. Whether he’d be texting me from backstage while the TSO show was going on, or sending my daughter an unexpected, amazing birthday present, or sharing files and stories from his older bands, or comparing notes and sharing advice on our back issues, he was always such an authentic, nice guy. Nothing but great memories and great music. Rest in Peace, James.”
Lewis had been part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra touring family from 2004-2012, often taking part in the East Coast production of the multi-cast annual holiday tour. An official cause of death was not provided.
As news of his death spread, multiple members of the TSO music community weighed in with tributes.
Singer Russell Allen wrote, “We lost a member of our TSO family today. The great James Lewis. I never had the pleasure of touring with him but we did meet on a few occasions and his amazing energy, charisma and humor was awesome! I was hoping we’d have a chance to tour together. I heard so many great things about him from my TSO band mates. But sadly he was not able to return. In the early years of my tenure with the band I was just ‘filling in’ for him on the songs he sang hoping he’d come back. I’ll always think of myself as filling in for James.. and will keep giving all I got for as long as I got and try to do what he said to me when I got in the band. ‘Congrats! Now don’t fuck it up’ haha He had an epic sense of humor. I loved that about him.. RIP brother.. you are loved by us all and will be missed.”
Guitarist Chris Caffery had been actively saluting Lewis in the past few days, sharing a flashback story this past Saturday, noting, “Spent so many nights on the stage with James but also spent so many days and nights off the stage laughing and creating priceless memories. James first toured with us the year Daryl Pediford passed away. Daryl passed away during the weeks of rehearsal for the tour. James really helped me and the others to get through that difficult time with his energy, smile and infectious laugh.”
“We were a bit more adventurous on the road back then. The schedule is a lot more brutal now with all the matinees. The stages have also gotten a lot bigger. We have to really be on our game physically and mentally with the new stage shows and all the moving stage pieces and special effects! Plus, yes we are all older, wiser and more careful! But we definitely had some classic times on the road before matinee madness began,” he continued.
“To give an example and no this doesn’t happen at all on the tours now…it was a snowy night in Grand Rapids and the backstage door was dangerously close to the local bars by the arena. “Old City Bar” has always been a break off the stage for me. This night I saw James and said “Lewis, wanna go get a shot?” He looked at me and laughed and we ran out in the snow and across the street in our tuxedos and entered an old city bar during old city bar! I forget exactly what we got but I remember telling the bartenders I’d be back after the show to pay my tab! The look on their faces was so priceless. I made it back for the next song and had this priceless memory placed into my mind forever! Like I said…definitely not anything that happens on the road these days. But it happened! Cheers Lewis!”
He then later shared another post commenting, “I spent a lot of time today thinking of exactly what to say…but so many other posts and words were spread out all over the net about James and his passing… As many of you saw a couple days ago I made a post with myself and my brother James Lewis. As many of you know by seeing those posts today my brother is now a new addition to my angels. I wanted to make that post Saturday to give you all a chance to comment on myself and James while he was still with us. James made me smile every second I ever saw him. I wanted to make sure those smiles surrounded him every every minute and second he was still with us.”
“This piece of photoshopped art was done by another one of my angels and little brother in heaven Mr David Z. David did a TSO calendar one tour that was photoshop brilliance. I found that today and wanted to share this. We used to make comments on how much Lewis’s laugh and face reminded us of the Lion. I’d walk up to him and just say “courage”. With that accent from the Wizard of Oz. The memories always give me strength. Stage right in TSO East land has a pretty strong crew of angels,” he continued. “I’m guessing right now James is with my tech Kyle and David Z having some laughs with Daryl Pediford and trying to understand whatever it is Paul O’neill is talking about at that moment. Hugs and love to all of you my angels and rest in peace James. This world was blessed to have you with us. The Heavens have become that much heavenly today.”
Singer Dustin Brayley added, “There wasn’t a time that I shared with him where he wasn’t smiling. Even when it was hard. I didn’t get to spend much time with him in his days with TSO, but he still left a great impression. He was loved by TSO fans and his TSO family. Rest in Power my man. Thank you for the memories. RIP James Lewis #rip #transsiberianorchestra”
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Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto commented, “So sad to hear this news, this man was the real deal, a true gentleman and wonderful singer! I had the pleasure of singing the song he did the original version of on Christmas Nights In Blue, RIP Mr Lewis, you’ll be extraordinarily missed!!”
Guitarist Angus Clark weighed in, “Very sad to hear that my friend and former TSO vocalist James Lewis has died. James was a gifted singer and a joy to work with. He is sorely missed.”
Singer Jay Pierce commented, “I was blessed to share a bus, the road, and thousands of stages with you my friend. You were one of the first souls I met in Hartford, Connecticut to begin our crazy TSO journey. You are without a doubt as genuine as you are talented, and I got to enjoy endless laughs on our travels and that amazing voice backstage for performances too many to count. I love you my brother! Rest in Peace James Lewis!”
And vocalist Jennifer Cella added, “Today the TSO family lost one of the kindest souls to ever grace the stage. James Lewis, you had the voice of a giant and the heart of a teddy bear. I will always cherish the moments we shared on and off the stage. You will be missed my friend. It gives me comfort to think that you were greeted by Paul, Dave, Darryl, & Kyle. My prayers go out to your mom and family.”
Revisit some of James Lewis’ fan-shot performances with Trans-Siberian Orchestra below.