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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Dr. Richard Lewis combines heart-healthy advice with a sprinkling of old-school rock and roll

Dr. Richard Lewis performed his version of the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda” recently at a meeting of the Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute.

One of Dr. Richard Lewis’ favorite performances took place earlier this year at Creative Childcare Academy, a day care center in Spotsylvania County.

The 90-second You Tube video of the event shows Lewis, guitar in hand, standing before an off-screen group of 4 and 5 year olds.

He sings:

“When your heart is all a pumpin,

It makes a sound like thumpin,

Lub dub, lub dub, it goes.

It’s your blood circulating,

And your blood percolating,

From your head down to your toes.”

Some of the adults in the audience may have recognized the song as an adaptation of the classic, “If I Only Had a Heart,” from the film “The Wizard of Oz.” For the children, however, it was just great fun, said Lisa Singh, lead pre-kindergarten teacher.

“He was awesome. He was one of the best entertainers that we’ve had here,” she said.

Lewis, a cardiologist, said he’s proud of “Your Thumpin, Pumpin Heart,” since it describes the workings of the heart and how to care for it in a way that children can understand.

“It’s a fun way to pass on health information,” he said.

The performance at the day care center, and other performances earlier this year, also represented a new chapter in Lewis’ musical career. Before then, the public had only brief glimpses of the full-time physician, part-time entertainer.

Dr. Richard Lewis

Some may remember him as Rick in Rick and the Arrhythmics, a rock band that he and his friends, including two other doctors, played with for several years. At his medical practice, Cardiology Associates of Fredericksburg, the staff recalls a Christmas party in 2008 when Lewis donned a blonde wig and did the Chuck Berry classic, “Johnny B. Goode.”

“It looked a lot more like Van Halen than Chuck Berry,” Lewis said.

But most of his patients, and many of his colleagues, know Lewis only as a buttoned-down cardiologist, a family man, with 28 years of service in the Fredericksburg area.

As he said, “You have a certain reputation. People think a certain way about you, and you don’t want to jeopardize that.”

But now he’s 60 and no longer responsible for answering call at nights and on weekends. He’s experienced a burst of creativity, he said, writing songs again and performing them in public.

And now his songs are sprinkled with heart-healthy messages, such as “Salt Shaker,” his cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” or his version of John Lennon’s “Woman:”

“Now, woman, let me try to explain.

You can have a heart attack without any pain.”

To the preschoolers at Creative Childcare Academy, his advice was to:

“Eat your fruits and grains and veggies,

So you can have spaghetties,

When it comes to dine.

Get your rest and your exercise,

And you’ll be healthy, well and wise,

Until you’re 99.”


(For more on Dr. Richard Lewis, the musical cardiologist, see the story soon in the paper. Lewis’ performances have been captured here, here, here and here in You Tube videos.)