With a distinctive sound marked by the blazing (and often hilariously comic) banjo theatrics of Little Roy Lewis, a big bass drum, and robust harmonies from a contingent of identically dressed Lewis daughters, the Lewis Family has remained an institution of Georgia music and of the bluegrass festival scene for several decades. The "First Family of Bluegrass Gospel" got its start, in a way, when Roy Lewis, Sr., known as "Pop," used a ladder to spirit 15-year-old Pauline Holloway ("Mom" Lewis, who died in 2002) away from her house and to an elopement in McCormick, SC, in 1925. In the late '40s they joined with four of their eight children to form a family singing group, taking the name the Lewis Family for a gospel performance at a Woodmen of the World meeting in 1951. That year they made their first recordings on the small Sullivan label, and by 1957 they were recording for Starday. The family was influenced by the gospel quartet harmonies of the Chuckwagon Gang and by the big-beat gospel of Martha Carson, but their sound and shows were distinctive from the start. In 1954 the Lewis Family began appearing on a weekly television show in Augusta, GA, near their hometown of Lincolnton; it ran until 1992. The family's live performances likewise had a durable consistency; through about 60 album releases on Starday, Canaan, Riverson, and Daywind, their sound remained largely unchanged. They began touring full time in the early '60s.