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The guitarist for the 1970s Canadian punk band Teenage Head is believed to be a victim of homicide, sources say.
The Hamilton Police Service in Ontario, Canada announced on Monday that they'd found the body of an unidentified male in his 60s after receiving information that “a number of e-mails” had been sent to several media outlets regarding the deceased male.
According to the Hamilton Spectator, a staff member from their newspaper called 911 to ask police to perform a welfare check on Hamilton-based Teenage Head guitarist Gord Lewis.
Police responded to the Catherine Street South residence and determined the male victim “had injuries consistent with foul play,” prompting a murder investigation. Though police and several media outlets — including CBC and The Hamilton Spectator — believe the victim is Gord Lewis, authorities said they could not positively identify the victim due to the state of decomposition.
“We are heartbroken and still trying to process the loss of our friend, bandmate and brother, Gord Lewis,” the band wrote. “Our hearts are with his family, and all that knew and loved him. Gord was a force and an inspiration to many. You were taken from us far too soon.”
The victim’s brother, Brian Lewis, confirmed that Lewis died on Sunday.
Media outlets alerted authorities after someone named “Jonathan Lewis” — the name of the musician's son — sent a series of emails from two accounts to the media beginning at around 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, which continued into late Sunday morning.
Johnathan Lewis, 41, the son of Gord Lewis, was arrested on charges of second-degree murder after the welfare check, according to Hamilton Police officials.
The younger Lewis allegedly lived with his father, who owned the apartment, the Spectator reported. Det. Sgt. Sara Beck told the outlet that mental health seemed to be a factor in the alleged murder.
“Jonathan was arrested shortly after police arrived at the apartment building,” said Beck.
The exact content of the reported emails was not published but allegedly consisted of references to Jonathan Lewis seeking medical help and several references to his father being dead.
Police told the Spectator they believed the victim was killed two to three days before being discovered.
Jeff Mahoney, a reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, outlined Gord Lewis’s musical influence on the punk scene as a “sound-defining guitarist.”
“He was a man who wrote the music and performed at the concerts — the wild, manic wonderful concerts — that many people, especially Hamiltonians, milestones their lives around (and still do),” Mahoney wrote. “In Short, Gord Lewis brought people energy and joy, joy with a rough exterior perhaps — I mean, we’re talking about punk icons Teenage Head here — but joy, nonetheless.”
Music publicist Eric Alper told the CBC that Gord was “the original punk.”
“Teenage Head” formed in the 1970s and reached its climax in the early 1980s, with songs such as “Some Kinda Fun” and “Let’s Shake.” According to the Spectator, the band — which formed in high school — was headed for international stardom until Lewis was involved in a serious automobile accident, which took him more than a year to recover from.
“He always wanted to be a rock star, and he was,” said lifelong friend and music promoter Lou Molinaro. “He was such a great soul, such a great person.”
According to Molinaro, he’d last seen the group perform in 2019, the same year Lewis was reportedly hospitalized for several months to treat ongoing depression.
“He was struggling,” said Molinaro. “I’d seen him look healthier.”
Hamilton Police say they plan on having a continued presence at the Catherine Street South residence for the next couple of days and continue to review video footage of the area. A formal identification and cause of death is expected to be released following a postmortem examination.
Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers of Hamilton.
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