Throwback Thursday to Damian
“Damage” Lewis growing up on Abbey Road

In honor of yesterday’s National Sibling Day, we travel back to 1970s today and visit two young brothers growing up in London!

Abbey Road, London. It is special. It is special firstly because it houses the famous zebra crossing that the Beatles walk on the cover of their fantastic album, titled, of course, Abbey Road.

abbeyroadcover

Can you imagine, how many fans, from England and all around the world, speaking all different languages, but sharing the same love for the Beatles, have crossed the street posing like one of the Fab Four?

And, secondly, Abbey Road is special because Damian Lewis actually grew up there and not far from the zebra crossing! 

Damian tells on Times Talks London:

So how was growing up on Abbey Road with his younger brother Gareth? Damian has some stories to tell. Here is a sweet one from an interview with Patricia Sheridan of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“I don’t know. When we were smaller, my brother and I had a pretty expansive fantasy life. We had two bikes, very ’70s bikes, at least in London, called Grifters. We invented two characters for ourselves called Bob and Charlie, and we’d go up and down the street and all around the neighborhood solving crimes. That’s what we did. We also had a couple of other alter egos called Pete and Dave. We were called Damian and Gareth. I think we were looking for just very plain names.”

And here are the little detectives Bob and Charlie for you 🙂 Cute!

copyright: Damian Lewis
copyright: Damian Lewis

It is hilarious that inventing characters and solving crimes were exactly what I did, too, with neighborhood kids in Izmir, Turkey – thousands of miles away from London, England. It’s just that I didn’t have a Grifter but had a Chopper instead, another ’70s bike! And that my friends and I were very much inspired by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven 😀

bicycles
Damian’s Grifter on the left, Damianista’s Chopper on the right 🙂

And I wonder if today’s children are like that at all, or it was just us that rode the bikes, wrote the crime stories and solved them?

Now let’s give the floor to Gareth for a second to have his say about his older brother:

“…we were great mates, with a tendency to violence. We used to ride round on our Grifter bikes, solving mysteries. We adopted these personae – we were Poncherello and Baker from the California Highway Patrol, or we were Bob and Charlie, or Pete and Dave, depending on how we felt. Ultimately he had the final say, by virtue of the fact that he could punch me up if I didn’t do what he said. We had some pretty ferocious fights. Like most boys, there were no boundaries, we really used to go for it. At that point I was the actor – I knew how to get him into trouble. He’d give me a nudge, I’d fall to the ground screaming, and Mum would come racing out saying: “What have you done to your little brother?”

Damian shares a story with Sunday Times:

“I was so confrontational as a child, my mother took me to the family doctor and said: “It’s either him or me. One of us has got to go.” I just remember feeling fretful – she found me impossible. If I was challenged, I felt I was being backed into a corner, metaphorically and sometimes physically. Gareth was a far cleverer child than I was. Less emotionally direct. He was much better at nodding, saying yes, then sliding off in his own direction. I remember one fight – I was about 10 and he was eight – when I had been particularly pedantic and annoying. Suddenly he started pummelling me with his fists, so I whacked him and he went down like a sack of potatoes, screaming his head off. Mum appeared and saw little Gareth, crumpled in a heap, wailing, but with one eye open, as always, to see what the reaction would be. She gave me this almighty clout around my head, the only time she ever hit me, and I ran down Abbey Road, saying I was never coming back. Afterwards I expected her to take me in her arms and say she was sorry. Instead she sat me down and gave me a right talking to. She’d had enough, I suppose.”

Remember Damian recently shared on Rapid Fire Challenge that his childhood nickname was, well, Damage! 🙂 But, hey, can you imagine a little boy running down Abbey Road and telling his mom he is never coming back? Awwww.

copyright: Damian Lewis – Huge thanks go to Jim Axelrod of CBS News for very kindly sharing this photo with us!

In an interview about their collaborative project The Baker with The Western Mail in 2006, the brothers talk about plays they used to stage at home for their parents and their friends. “We have been doing this since we were tiny kids making up characters and putting on plays” says Damian. And they remember staging their very original The Chewing Gum play, with a young boy called Masdaq as its central character. It turns out the play was about this young boy and a piece of chewing gum which went all around the room. 

😀

And the plays did not stop there. Damian talks about the special closet in their house with Daily Mail:

“My parents had a fancy dress cupboard when I was little with a plastic gun and a wand and some outfits — my brother was always Spiderman and I was Batman.”

And it is not surprising that this kid with good imagination dreamt of being on a chat show on TV. When asked in an interview with The Telegraph whether it is true that he used to stand in front of his bedroom mirror pretending he was a guest on Wogan and answering imaginary questions in an American accent, Damian responds promptly:

“It’s all true! I’ve always been a narcissist.”

But, hey, you have a 10 year old with some vision here! Damian guested on Wogan’s radio show in 2012 — only 30 years after rehearsing in front of his bedroom mirror 😀

source: BBC

Talking about Abbey Road makes a bit of talk about the band that put Abbey Road on the map inevitable. Right? Right!

So Damian becomes a Beatles Fan at a young age as he is introduced to their music at school. We learn from a Classic FM news report that, when he makes an appearance at the Music For Youth Schools Prom 2013 to celebrate inspirational teachers, Damian tells kids:

“When I was roughly your age, 11 or 12, I sang in a chamber choir and had an inspirational teacher, Mr Woodgate, who rearranged Beatles tunes. And so, as an 11 year old I was able to sing Eleanor Rigby, And I Love Her and other Beatles tunes in four-part harmony, and it’s a memory I treasure to this day.”

And, being a Beatles fan, he says in an interview with US Weekly in 2001:

“I used to take my shoes off to cross the street so I’d look like Paul on the record.”

Who would YOU try to look like?

My personal favorite Beatle is George. I admit though I tried to look like Paul in my last visit to London! 😀 Notice the bare feet, please!

Damianista on Abbey Road

In closing, let us pay tribute to Abbey Road with a song from The Abbey Road album.

Here comes Here Comes The Sun as a tribute to the sun of this universe that we call Damian Lewis fandom 😀

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

33 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday to Damian
“Damage” Lewis growing up on Abbey Road”

  1. A fantastic article, as always. Didn’t know he was from Abbey Road, so thanks for teaching me something new about my ginger prince! Love his childhood nickname too – sounds like he was a real terror at times! Wonder if his kids push the boundaries like he did…

    1. Thank you, Vicky! I loved putting this post together and I love Damian’s childhood nickname. Hehehe. Oh yeah we do not know much about the parent – child dynamics in the Lewis-McCrory household but it should not be very different from anybody’s house. I think the kids could be a bit different from today’s typical kids living glued to TV, computer and ipads since Damian and Helen seem to limit the their time on electronic gadgets which is probably a good idea. But, after all, I am not a parent. What do I know? 🙂

      BTW, your lovely story is coming up next week!

  2. This is a sweet article. My older sister (we were #7 & 8 out of 9) used to roam our neighborhood in Wichita,Kansa with our friends playing imagination games like Damian’s. With flashlights – at night! Can you imagine? Couldn’t happen today.
    When her sons lived with me, many years later, I learned how rough and tumble and, yes, sly little guys can be. God love ‘em!
    Thanks for a slice of life story. Damian’s and yours. And thanks for the memories.

    1. Thank you! Wow, #7 and #8 out of 9!!!! I am an only child :))))
      Imagination is almost a must in an only child’s world since you do not have a sibling and you have to imagine friends and stuff.
      Since my aunt and my mom were very close I practically grew up with two boys though – my cousins – and so yeah I know how rough and tumble it can get with them, and the dynamics is usually along the lines Damian and Gareth describe with the mom often protecting the little one and the little one is very much aware of that 🙂

    2. Wow, Notlinda! 9 siblings <3 This is really, really great! I've always dreamed of a big family like yours! I can only imagine what a fun it is! I mean I don't know your story, you may have had some difficult moments, but having such a big family is the greatest support that life can bring. And YES, your mom is a hero! 🙂

      1. Well, it was the ‘50s and we were Irish Catholic. It was large but not unheard of for families I knew. The fatherless part was the more unusual aspect.

  3. I love that one! <3

    He must have been a rebellious and contumacious kid with an intense sense of freedom. Although, as is evident waving flags versus his mom was unsuccessful 😀

    I love those pictures of both of them with Garrett as kids. The one Damian sticks out is д favorite. Gareth looks suspiciously obedient. 😀 I wish I could see a picture of his parents.

    I knew that The Graduate is his favorite movie but for the apartment I found out from this article. I guess it must be the one with Shirley McLean and Jack Lemon not Bellucci – Kassel one. I have not seen that from 1960, it looks like ‘boho’ comedy.

    I had a bicycle too – Balkan. It was actually my sister's bike, but no one could take it from me. During the summer holidays I was glued to it. I had bruises and scratches all over my body, even behind my ears 😀

    As for the fictional characters my great mission was in ‘Blake's 7’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNYmUKekS0 We had laser weapons made from plastic bottles of liquid soap, and the coolest thing was to teleport. 😀

    And oh yeah, I was also singing in a choir! 

    Great pic of you on Abbey Road <3
    Thanks for the memories!!!

    1. Thank you – and thanks for the memories, too! We loved playing Battlestar Galactica, you know the old one? We used hair dryers as space guns. We were all girls playing so girls had to play boys, too; and because he was left-handed like me, I was always Apollo 😀

      Oh the pic with Damian sticking out his tongue is priceless and we cannot thank Jim Axelrod from CBS News enough for very kindly sharing that one and a few other pics with us. Damian gave them to him for his profile on CBS News Sunday earlier this year. When you look at the pic closely, you can see that he took a pic of the picture with his phone 😀

      The only “Apartment” I know is with Shirley Mc Laine and Jack Lemmon. Damian cites Jack Lemmon as one of his favorite actors, too. And it makes perfect sense since Lemmon is also an all around actor doing both drama and comedy very well.

      Hehehe you don’t know how many times I crossed Abbey Road bare feet to have a pic taken without many cars!!!! 🙂 It’s such a busy road!

      1. Hair dryers are excellent weaponry for star battles, but our parents have banned the appliances ‘arsenal’ 😀
        Yes, I can imagine these Abbey Road marchings. Someone should make a documentary comedy about how people take pictures there. 😀 And the municipality has to give ice cream to the most patient drivers.

  4. I enjoyed this so much! Definitely, these two brothers were creative and he knew he was going to play American accent hahahaha that’s just fantastic!
    I love the pics and especially the bikes!! I had one too…
    I wouldn’t have imagined the crime solving part….
    I can relate to him in one thing.. I remember walking away from my mom saying I was never coming back! Hahahha my dad came and talked me around to come back!!

    1. Thank you! Yeah it’s very interesting, isn’t it, that Damian interviewed himself in front of his bedroom mirror in an American accent? 😀

      I relate to the bike and crime solving, too… I was so into crime solving when I was a kid and told people I would be a private investigator when I grew up!
      I really loved Colombo, Magnum PI (I had a crush on Tom Selleck!), Charlie’s Angels, Cagney and Lacey, Hill Street Blues, and all that! And I read every single Agatha Christie book (it was lovely to find out much later that Damian played in a Poirot episode!)

      I so enjoyed putting this post together, but I loved it even more that people came and shared their own childhood memories here. Can’t get any lovelier than that!

      But, hey, why did you walk away from your mom? 😀

        1. Then I exactly know what you are talking about! Expectations and reality never worked with me and my mom, either 😀

  5. Oh, my gracious! I might have procreated after all if I’d been guaranteed they’d look like those two adorable ginger rapscallions! Probably best I did not, since I am so arty-farty lenient they would have ended up far worse than Damian sounds at that age, lol.
    Can anyone ever forget their first bike? Mine was purple and white because purple was Donny Osmond’s favorite color. (Swoons in retrospect.) It had a tacky white basket with purple flowers. In the 1970s it was all about gender roles, ya’ll!

    I was not into detective pretend because I’ve never been particularly analytical. I just let things flow over me. (I’m obtuse, lol.) No amount of Encyclopedia Brown or Agatha Christie could ever remedy that. Not even Sherlock Holmes, and I am one “lost in the past” gal, lol. My pretend games were sooooo mini-series in nature, with romance, drama, near-death crying scenes, and a cocktail party or two when we could score some Welch’s grape juice. I can remember forcing this elaborate western roleplay on my two best gal pals just so I could play a scrappy Native American boy. Once I raked leaves into the outline of a ship with cabins and everything so I could be Roddy McDowall as Acres in Poseidon Adventure. I was well past puberty before I stopped wanting to play boys, but by that time no one was playing pretend (or Barbies) at all. Sad days!

    I do remember before the great thrust into reality (boo!) I was sooooo bossy about plot, which I suppose is why I direct plays now. I’m a lot nicer with my actor friends, though I do often thrill when I see them in costume. They are like my dolls come to life. Is that creepy? Please say no, lol!

    1. I LOVE THIS! Your first bike was purple because it was Danny Osmond’s favorite color. First crush? Mine was, don’t laugh, Patrick Duffy, I really thought I would marry him when I grew up. Hahaha! It doesn’t matter if it is crime stories or romance, all kids play some kind of pretend game which is, IMHO, all about imagination! And I love hearing about everyone’s childhood games!!! I always wanted to play boys in those pretend games probably because in most of the shows and movies and books they were the heroes. They always saved the day and I wanted to do that, too! It is extremely nice that you ended up doing what you really loved. It is a privilege! I ended up going to engineering school in college and then switched to soft – social – sciences.

      1. And I can’t forget our candy cigarettes we’d “smoke” with our mocktails. I had “Farrah Fawcett’ feathered hair. I thought I was the shit with those candy cigarettes.

          1. Every time we played Charlie’s Angels I had to be Jacklyn Smith because my hair is dark, but it was long and feathered like Farah. And guess who played Bosley? The dog!

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