Who is Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis (born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Lewis made his first recordings in 1954 for Sun Records, a label mainly recording rockabilly and blues by white musicians. He was a major force in the transition from country music to rock ‘n’ roll where his piano playing would make him one of the most influential pianists of all time.
In 1988, Lewis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2003 he was inducted for his influence on rock ‘n’ roll.
Jerry Lee Lewis has received a number of accolades: For The Last Time: Live from Austin City Limits (2003) and Last Man Standing (2005), both released by Sony B On April 28, 2009, Jerry Lee Lewis was honored in Memphis by the Grizzlies franchise of the NBA.
Jerry Lee Lewis was born to Elmo and Mamie Lewis in Ferriday, Louisiana. His paternal grandparents were Luther and Anna Lewis. Of his childhood, Lewis said:
Lewis was initially home-schooled as a child, later attending school at the New Orleans Christian Brothers School; he reportedly studied solfeggio for two and a half hours each day and worked on his piano playing every day. He was physically punished often for what he said later was “stupid stuff.”
The family moved from Louisiana to Kilmichael, Mississippi in 1948, where there wasn’t much work due to the ongoing Great Depression.
In 1954 Lewis made his first recordings with a band called The Night Rockers. His second recording session, with owner Sam Phillips’s Memphis Recording Service in Sun Studio on January 7, 1955, yielded “Crazy Arms”, which was Lewis’ first hit.
This song featured multi-tracked Telecaster guitars and his piano playing. The recording session also documented Lewis on vocals, Jerry Lee Lewis backing him on piano, electric guitar, drums, and upright bass.
One night, Elvis Presley dropped in and sang “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” with Lewis on piano. On March 8 of that year Jerry Lee Lewis and his band performed at the Overton Park Shell for a show featuring Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins as well as Elvis Presley.
Sun Records owner Sam Phillips was so impressed with Lewis’s performance that he told him, “You might be a damn good piano player, but you’ll never make a singer.”
However, during an impromptu jam session with Elvis Presley in 1955, Jerry Lee was playing the piano standing up. This inspired Elvis to say “Never was I able to do it like Jerry” and Lewis to say “I’ve got you beat, buddy.”
Lewis’s first hit record was “Crazy Arms” (1956), which reached number six on the country chart. It was followed by both “End of the Road” (1957) and “Great Balls of Fire” (1957) which peaked at number one on the same chart. Jerry Lee Lewis soon became one of the leading stars in rock and roll, appearing in the movie ‘Jamboree’ (1957).
“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was written by black blues singer/pianist Otis Blackwell, who was then an employee at a feed mill in the small town of Hughes, Arkansas. Lewis’s style was influenced by rhythm and blues players, particularly mentioning Little Richard (who had recorded the song 10 years earlier).
How did Jerry Lee Lewis die?
Jerry Lee Lewis died in Hernando, Mississippi from a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at 7:38 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016. Jerry Lee Lewis had suffered from poor health in the years before his death and was known to have multiple chronic illnesses including diabetes and failing kidneys due to high blood pressure.
Jerry Lee Lewis Son and Daughter
Steve Allen Lewis
Steve Allen Lewis (born 1962) – son of Jerry Lee Lewis and second wife, Jane Mitchum. In 1962, when his son Steve Allen Lewis was three years old, he drowned in a swimming pool accident.
Caroline Jayne Lewis (born 1959) – daughter of Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown. She was named after his sister, who had died at the age of 18 in 1958. At the time Caroline was born, her father’s career was damaged by the scandal surrounding his marriage to his 13-year-old second cousin.
Phoebe Jane Elizabeth Lewis-Siegal (born 1960) – daughter of Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown. She was named after his sister Phoebe, who had died at the age of 19 in 1958. Phoebe is a talented actress and singer. She used to play the mean girl Frankie on “Freaks And Geeks”
Jerry Lee Lewis Jr.
Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. (born 1964) – son of Jerry Lee Lewis and second wife, Jane Mitchum. In 1985 his father put him in a rehab center for alcohol and drug addiction after he nearly died of a drug overdose.
Jerry Lee Jr. was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for six years in Panama and four years at Ft. Benning, Georgia rising to the rank of Sergeant before receiving an honorable discharge after his father’s health began to fail him. Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. died at the age of 19 when he overturned the Jeep he was driving.
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Steve Allen Show – 1957)
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