Norfolk music legend Lenis Guess, part of influential ‘Norfolk Sound,’ dies at 81


Lenis Guess, Oct. 6, 2021 (Courtesy – Dorian Flood)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Lenis Guess, a music legend from Norfolk, died this week at age 81.

Guess’ family members say the singer, writer and producer passed away Tuesday evening in Norfolk.

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Born in Norfolk in 1940, the multi-talented, self-taught artist was a major part of the “Norfolk Sound” in the 1960s and ’70s, which influenced musicians from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

Among his compositions were singles “Working For My Baby,” “Just Ask Me” and “Thank Goodness Gotta Good Woman” and album “I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone.”

He worked alongside the “Godfather of Norfolk,” music producer Frank Guida, and eventually opened his own recording studio in the city, helping establish the regional sound of Tidewater.

His studio put out music through the ’70s before he moved to New York City and opened a studio there, also getting involved in theater, TV and movies before returning home to Norfolk several years ago.

Guess has a star on the Legends of Music Walk of Fame in downtown Norfolk, which also features Ella Fitzgerald and Clarence Clemons.

While Guess’ work was highly influential, it’s mostly gone unacknowledged outside of regional circles. In 2014, Germany’s Tramp label put a compilation album of Guess’ work called “The Story of Lenis Guess.” that you can listen to online, along with other records.

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