Teenage Head's Gord Lewis found dead in Hamilton apartment, guitarist's son charged with murder

Hamilton police have charged a 41-year-old man with second-degree murder after guitarist Gord Lewis of the punk rock band Teenage Head was found dead Sunday.

Family, friends of Hamilton music 'legend' are 'devastated and conflicted'

A man with glasses
Gord Lewis, guitarist for the punk rock band Teenage Head, has been found dead, according to his family, friends and band. (Teenage Head/Instagram)

Hamilton police have charged a 41-year-old man with second-degree murder after guitarist Gord Lewis of the punk rock band Teenage Head was found dead Sunday. 

Brian Lewis, one of Gord's six siblings, told CBC Hamilton he learned Sunday that the musician was dead.

Police said Monday afternoon that Jonathan Lewis has been charged. Gord's family confirmed to CBC that Jonathan is his son. 

Brian described Gord, 65, as "gentle, artistic, musically inspirational, loving and loyal."

Teenage Head was formed in the 1970s and is considered to be a pioneer in Canada's punk rock scene. In a statement Monday, the band said it was "heartbroken."

"Our hearts are with his family and all that knew and loved him," the band said on Instagram. "Gord was a force and an inspiration to many. You were taken from us far too soon."

Lou Molinaro, a music promoter in the city and owner of former venue This Ain't Hollywood, told CBC Hamilton on Monday he was saddened and shocked by the news, and called Gord a "legend" in Hamilton and Canada's music scene. 

"Gord had a big heart, He was gentle and very caring," Molinaro said. 

Emails sent to media seemingly from son

Det.-Sgt. Sarah Beck told reporters the police service learned about multiple emails sent to various news outlets about someone's death.

The emails sent on Sunday to CBC Hamilton and others by someone named Jonathan Lewis stated his father was dead.

Beck said based on the information in the emails, officers visited the apartment on Catharine Street South in the city's Corktown area. As of midday Monday, police were still at the scene, but said they aren't looking for any other suspects. 

A photo from the shoot for Teenage Head’s first album cover. Nick Stipanitz, Steve Mahon, Frankie Venom and Gord Lewis are shown left to right. (Teenage Head/Facebook)

Beck said police believe they know the victim's identity, but must do an autopsy for a "positive confirmation" due to the "level of decomposition." The victim is thought to have died two or three days ago, police said. 

They said it appeared the father and son had been living together. 

"Jonathan was arrested shortly after police arrived at the apartment building," Beck said, adding he lived at the apartment, but it belonged to his father.

Family of 'one of Canada's original punks' devastated

Brian said the family is "devastated and conflicted."

"It's the loss of a beloved brother and a very complicated situation," he said. 

Brian said Gord loved Andy Griffith, The Honeymooners and The Flintstones

Molinaro said he and Gord were good friends and often talked about baseball, hockey and Hamilton trivia.

The Westdale, a local cinema and performance venue in the neighbourhood where the band formed, said it's postponing an event with lead singer Dave (Rave) DesRoches that had been planned for Monday evening.

Brian said Gord had a lifelong dedication to music: "He always wanted to be in a band."

Molinaro said the band had an "international influence" on the punk rock scene.

Music publicist Eric Alper told CBC Hamilton on Monday that Gord was one of "the original punks in this country."

Six men sit at a table.
Gord Lewis, far right, was the guitarist for the Hamilton punk rock band Teenage Head. He was 65. (Submitted by Brian Lewis)
Teenage Head is seen here playing a free concert on top of Jackson Square rooftop in Hamilton in May of 1979. (Stephen Mahon)

Alper pointed to Teenage Head playing at The Last Pogo, an infamous late-1970s punk rock concert in Toronto.

"They were one of, probably not just Hamilton's most important bands, but has to be up there in terms of the all-time greats for Ontario and Canada for sure," Alper said.

"We're so apt to talk about the punk scene with the Ramones in the U.S. or the Sex Pistols in the U.K., kind of forgetting we had a pretty vibrant one here."

Molinaro said Gord once helped put together and play a surprise concert for a friend dying of cancer.

"That was just an example of Gord as a person," he said.

"He really valued people … he knew his music made people happy. Gord's music was a soundtrack to many people's lives, including mine, so thankfully the legacy will continue."


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.