Lewie Polk Steinberg

September 13, 1933July 21, 2016
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Lewie Polk Steinberg was born on September 13, 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee to Milton Gus and Ida Foxx Steinberg. He was the fourteenth of fifteen siblings. God called him home on Thursday, July 21, 2016. He was best known to all as “Lewie” and was careful to spell his name “L-E-W-I-E” as it was often mistaken for Lewis or Louie.

As a youngster, he attended and graduated from Hamilton High School where he developed a love of sports particularly football as a team player and excelled in his natural given musical ability as a member of the high school marching band. His love for music carried over into his young adult life; he served in the U.S. Army for 2 years and played the trumpet in the U.S. Army band. He was also an Elks Lodge member.

Lewie joined Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church as a young man through the encouragement of his wife Gladys and was a faithful member for over 50 years. In his later years, one of his greatest joys was attending Sunday morning worship service at MBCC and listening to the choir under the direction of Leo Davis. He always arrived early to greet his fellow church members and make sure he had his own reserved balcony seat. Throughout the years, he personally wished his church family a Merry Christmas with a hand delivered Christmas card. Lewie was very philanthropic and consistently donated to many charities. He celebrated the love and goodness of God by giving thanks for everything. Each day was started with an expressive “Good Morning”. He rejoiced and was glad in each day seeing the awesomeness of God’s creation in the rain, sunshine, stars, clouds, birds, grass and trees. He stopped to smell the roses; the simple things in life.

A man of honor, he was married to his beloved wife Gladys for 47 years. He was the proud father of five daughters and a step-son. He loved his wife and children but his grandchildren captured a special place in his heart. Each grandchild was given a distinctive name (Moon Head, Egg, Butter, Lollipop, Piggly Wiggly, and Half Moon) that strengthened their bond and he loved to be called Grandpa.

For those who knew Lewie, he was always willing to share a joke. A joke he often shared with Brian Harris on the church parking lot was, “There is only three good looking men in here and that is me, myself and I”. He brought laughter to those around him with his inherent sense of humor. He loved to watch The Lawrence Welk Show, black and white Western’s or “shoot-um ups” as he called them, WWE Raw and Smackdown. Food was also one of his greatest pleasures other than manicuring his signature white beard. He relished the attention and the compliments that he received about his beard. It was his trademark.

His early professional life was in the music industry. He was introduced to the bass while playing the trumpet in his Brother Luther’s band. The band was missing the bass player and Luther told Lewie that he would have to fill in. Under Luther’s instruction and encouragement, he picked up the bass and the rest is history. He is most known for being the original bass player for Booker T. and the M.G.’s (Memphis Group). The interracial house band at Stax Records came together as an accident. They were assembled to back a demo session for rocker Billy Lee Riley. When Riley didn’t show up for the session, the group found themselves with studio time on their hands and a fresh reel of tape on the machine. Green Onions was the product of a jam session. It was released as a single on the “B” side but soon caught fire with radio disc jockeys and listeners. The instrumental hit rose to # 1 on the R & B charts and to # 3 on the Top 100. Lewie recorded two albums with Booker T. and the M.G’s, Green Onions (1962) and Soul Dressing (1965). The track was named to Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. As a Stax Records house band musician, he was no stranger to the studio and played on many hit recordings during that era. Lewie's bass can be heard on albums like Otis Redding's Pain in My Heart. During the 1960s, as a member of the Stax Record’s house band, he played on many recordings by artists such as Wilson Pickett, The Markeys, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor and Albert King. His main gig though was playing in the popular club band led by Willie Mitchell at the Plantation Inn and Flamingo Room as well as the Club Paradise. He also played and toured with many legendary big bands and iconic artists. Some of his musical accomplishments include:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee (1992) (dedicated to his love and wife Gladys)

Pioneer Music Award – Rhythm and Blues Foundation (1999)

Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2002)

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2007)

Brass Note on Beale Street Walk of Fame (2010)

W.C Handy Award (Blues Music Award)

Guinness Book of Records – Longest Music Marathon

His artistic ability was also recognizable outside of the music business. He worked and retired from United Paint Company as a colorist. His eye for color allowed him to create paint formulas for major construction and renovation projects. Following his retirement, he was still called upon for his expertise.

He was preceded in death by his wife Gladys B. Steinberg, parents Milton Gus and Ida Foxx Steinberg, and thirteen siblings. He is survived by five daughters, Roslyn Jackson, Renea Steinberg, Ida Steinberg, Kimberly Steinberg Iluobe all of Memphis and Judy Franklin (Kenneth), Lake Worth, FL and one step-son Gregory Strickland. He leaves ten grandchildren, Robyn Britton, Rachelle Taylor, Ronald Jackson, Jr., Bridgette Reynolds, Willie B. Dye, III, Micaela Steinberg, Kimbriel Steinberg, Laura Iluobe, LaSonya Epps, and Jacolby Strickland, nine great-grandchildren Raelyn Taylor, Myron Taylor, Jr., Maurice Reynolds, Jeremiah Dye, Jalea Dye, Willie B. Dye, IV, Aaliyah Epps, LaDarrian Brown, King Strickland and a brother, Isaac Steinberg along with many nieces, nephews and extended family members.

Mr. Lewie Polk Steinberg was liked by everyone, young and old alike, and was loved by many. He will be missed and forever remembered.


  • Visitation Tuesday, July 26, 2016
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lewie Polk Steinberg

have a memory or condolence to add?

Rick Webb

July 27, 2016

Although I only worked with Mr. Lewie for a few years but in that short time became very fond of him and cared for him deeply as a friend. I admired and respected him as a man as did so many. He was a very caring and loving person to his family. He loved the Tigers and the Grizzlies and we always talked about them when we met. I will miss him greatly as will everyone.

Rosalyn McClure

July 27, 2016

Dearest Renee, Ida & Steinberg Family,
It is at times like these that we find time to offer a comforting touch - much often after years of silence against a "should have done." I marched proudly with two of you at WW in the 70's. Now, I step to a different beat, (with you all), as Glory receives your loved one Home. Affectionately, - roz.

July 26, 2016

To The Family,
I'm praying for your strength and comfort during this time of sorrow. He was and Angel in our present who will be sincerely missed. Yours In Jesus Christ Name, JessieTowns (Usher) Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church .


July 26, 2016

Judy Franklin, I'm so sorry to hear of the lost of your father. My Deepest Sympathy, WIll continue to Lift Your Family Up in Prayer.
I'm here for you if you need anything.

Deepest Sympathy
Maria Gregory ( BHM AL.

Crystal Brown

July 26, 2016

Mr. Lewie was my pew partner for years at The Blvd. Anytime that I didn't have my tambourine, he'd ask why wasn't I playing. One time, my wrist was in great pain and I told him. He prayed for my wrist and I've never had that pain since. Mr. Lewie was such a kind man, I didn't know, until years later that not only was he a musician but that he played the awesome bass for Booker T & the MGs. Family, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. He truly loved you guys.
Numbers 6:24-26
Crystal Brown

July 26, 2016

I'm sorry to hear of the lost of my brother-in-law. He will be truly be miss. We love you dearly....

Love Always Mary Alice Steinberg and Family...

Sherrye Wiggins-Letcher

July 25, 2016

I was so sorry to hear of your loss. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help at this time.

Sharon Butler

July 24, 2016

With our deepest love for my uncle and the family. Brenda, Sharon and Bobby and our family extend to you are prayers. In times like these it is a need to come together and celebrate your father and our uncle. To each one of you may God Bless and keep you...

Charlotte White

July 23, 2016

Kim, Roslyn, Kimbriel and the rest of the family,

I am so sorry for your loss. He was such a pleasure and so sweet. I know there is a lot of pain and sadness in your family right now. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you. Praying that God comfort you now and in the days ahead. Please let me know what I can do.

Love you all.