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Jerry Lee Lewis


Jerry Lee Lewis (born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist who is often known by his nickname of The Killer and is often viewed as "rock & roll's first great wild man."

An early pioneer of rock and roll music, in 1956 Lewis made his first recordings at Sun Records. "Crazy Arms" sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. Lewis followed this when he recorded songs such as "Great Balls of Fire", "Breathless" and "High School Confidential". However, Lewis's rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin when he was 22.

He had little success in the charts following the scandal and his popularity quickly faded. His live performance fees plummeted from $10,000 per night to $250. In the meantime he was determined to gain back some of his popularity. During the early 1960s he didn't have much chart success with few exceptions such as "What'd I Say". His live performances at this time were increasingly wild and energetic. His album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg from 1964 is often regarded by many music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest rock and roll concert albums ever. After recording songs such as "I'm on Fire" for several years with little success, in 1968 Lewis made a transition into country music and had hits with songs such as "Another Place, Another Time". This reignited his career and throughout the late 1960s and 1970s he regularly topped the country-western charts. His No. 1 country hits included "To Make Love Sweeter For You", "There Must Be More to Love Than This", "Would You Take Another Chance on Me" and "Me and Bobby McGee".

Lewis's successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" and Mack Vickery's "Rockin' My Life Away". In the 21st century Lewis continues to tour to audiences around the world and still releases new albums. One such album, titled Last Man Standing, is his best selling to date at over a million copies sold worldwide. This was followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of Lewis's career.

Lewis has had a dozen gold records in both rock and country, won several Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1989, his life was chronicled in the movie Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed his box set All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology number 242 on their list of "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2004, they ranked him number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Lewis is the last surviving member of Sun Records' Million Dollar Quartet and the Class of '55 album, which also included Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley.


Lewis attended a fundamentalist Bible school in Texas. He was eventually expelled, but has been quoted as calling Rock & Roll the Devil's music.
He made his first public appearance at 14, sitting in with a local Country & Western band.
Lewis' Rock direction was suggested to him when he auditioned for Sun Records in 1956. The company had just lost Elvis Presley to RCA and needed a replacement.
Lewis' got his nickname "The Killer" when he was in high school.
He developed a rowdy reputation, famous for kicking out his piano bench and playing the keys with his feet. He learned early on that this was a sure way to stir up a crowd.
In December 1957, Lewis made a big career mistake. He married 13-year-old Myra Gale Brown, who was the daughter of his cousin, J.W. Brown (also his bass player). She was his third wife. The marriage survived for 14 years, but Lewis' career faded as he was denounced by religious leaders across the US. He has been married 6 times.
In 1968, Lewis was in a Rock musical called Catch My Soul (a version of Shakespeare's Othello). This was made into a movie without him.
His cousin is TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. His sister, Linda Gail Lewis, also released solo recordings in the late '60s and early '70s.
He was among the first 10 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Dennis Quaid starred as Lewis in the biographical film, Great Balls of Fire!. Lewis' voice was used, but his piano playing was dumped in favor of Quaid's.
In 1986, he checked into The Betty Ford Clinic because he was addicted to painkillers. Lewis almost died in 1981 as a result of ulcers caused by alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates.
On package tours, Lewis insisted upon being the last performer - Always. When Chuck Berry wanted to go on last at their only show together because he was, as he said, the bigger star at the time, this caused a problem. After some serious contention, with Jerry insisting HE was the bigger star, and besides that (being as confirmed a racist as the South could produce at the time) he certainly wasn't going to give up top billing to a black man, the show's producers forced Jerry Lee to accept the arrangement or forfeit his share of the proceeds. During the last song, "Great Balls Of Fire," Jerry Lee poured lighter fluid on the top cover of the piano and after he finished walked offstage and as he passed by Chuck, who was waiting in the wings, said, "Top that, n---er!" Much of this incident was sanitized for the movie, and Quaid as Lewis said "Top that, Star!"
His 8-year-old brother Elmo was killed by a drunken driver when Jerry Lee was 3.
In 1984, Lewis' fifth wife died of a drug overdose when she apparently mistook his methadone for sleeping pills.
He personified Rockabilly, which is a fusion of Rock and Hillbilly music, and an early sub-genre of Rock.
In 1973, his son Jerry Lee Jr. was killed in a car accident in Mississippi. His only other son, Steven Allen, died in a 1962 drowning.

 

50s, 60s Hits

Breathless
Great Balls Of Fire
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

Members of this Group


Krusty

clubuser08

Jeff

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