Robert Curtis Lewis (b. March 4 1947, Akron, Ohio), founding member (along with Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh) of the new wave band Devo. Lewis played basketball briefly for Bobby Knight at Cuyahoga Falls High School, was a National Merit Scholar at Kent State University, and the first student at the university to earn a degree in anthropology, graduating shortly after the Kent State shootings on May 4 1970.
In 1971, Lewis, along with Devo co-founder Gerald Casale and Peter Gregg, recorded three proto-Devo songs, I Been Refused, I Need A Chick and Auto Mowdown, on primitive recording equipment in an apartment located over two businesses; Dayho, the electronics and T.V. shop, and Guido's Pizza Shop in Kent, Ohio.
Lewis studied poetry with Black Mountain poet Ed Dorn, British poet Eric Mottram and Robert Bertholf, an English professor at Kent who later was named the curator of the poetry collection and Charles D. Abbot Scholar at the New York State University at Buffalo.
In the 1980s, when working as a consultant in Damascus, Syria, he was Middle East Correspondent for Rolling Stock magazine, published by Dorn and Jennifer Dunbar Dorn. His poetry has been published in Creedences, Shelley's and the Poetry Review, when Eric Mottram was editor.
Robert Lewis and Gerald Casale were the originators of the concept of de-evolution, writing seminal tracts in the now-defunct LA Staff, and later formed the band with Mark Mothersbaugh.
In 1978, after Devo signed a multi-million dollar multi-album contract with Warner Brothers Records, co-founder Bob Lewis asked for credit and compensation for his contributions to the band. The band refused to negotiate, and sued Lewis in Los Angeles Superior Court,seeking a declaratory judgment stating Lewis had no rights to the name or theory of De-evolution. Lewis then filed an action in United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleging theft of intellectual property. During discovery, Lewis produced articles, promotional materials, documentary evidence and an interview recorded at the Akron Art Institute following the premiere of In the Beginning was the End in which Mothersbaugh and other band members credited Lewis with developing the theory of de-evolution, and the band quickly settled for an undisclosed sum.
He later wrote and performed as Hurricane Bob on the New Wave Akron compilation album Bowling Balls from Hell, and worked on videos with New Wave groups Tin Huey, Hammer Damage and Human Switchboard.
As a result of his experiences during the Devo litigation, the Lewis began consulting with trial lawyers, doing legal research and writing, and writing commentary on cultural and political issues.
Lewis currently resides in Independence, Missouri.
- Some thoughts on Devo: the first Postmodern Band PDF. De-evolution and Postmodernism essay on Devo history at Kent State. (© 2006)
- Downloadable Microsoft Word DOC file
- Lewis in Antiquities, British Museum (pic)
- Readers vs. Breeders: Didactical Works re De-Evolution, originally appearing in the underground newspaper The Staff AKA LA Staff, 1972-07-14 edition.