Jerry Lee Lewis, The Killer Turns 85

The legend is one of Rock N’ Roll’s founding fathers

Jerry Lee Lewis, The Killer Turns 85

He was the prototypical Rock Star. Long before the late 60’s and 70’s era of rock stardom excess, Jerry Lee Lewis already was living the wild Rock Star life in the 1950’s. His bad wild boy reputation as well as his non conventional stage antics that included wild and energetic performances and instrument smash before Rockers did it, earned him the nickname “The Killer”.

Jerry Lee Lewis was born on September 29th, 1935 on Ferriday, Louisiana, U.S. The Killer made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis. “Crazy Arms” sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” followed by “Great Balls of Fire” that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. He also scored hits with the songs “Breathless” and “High School Confidential”. During his Sun Records years,  Lewis participated in a recording session group that became known as the “Million Dollar Quartet”. The recording sessions included him, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, he is today the last surviving member of the “Million Dollar Quartet”. The Killer enjoyed the biggest wave of success during that period, however, personal scandals put an end to it when the press found out that he had married his 13 year old cousin. His Rock N’ Roll career faltered in the wake of the event and Lewis had minimal success in the charts following the scandal, his popularity quickly eroded. 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 1960’s and 1970’s he regularly topped the country-western charts; throughout his seven-decade career, Lewis has had 30 songs reach the top 10 on the “Billboard Country and Western Chart”. 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 success continued throughout the decade and he embraced his Rock N’Roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace” and Mack Vickery’s “Rockin’ My Life Away”. In 1969 he played The Rock N’Roll Revival Festival in Toronto, Canada, an event where two generations of Rockers played together, some of the other names in the bill included, Chuck Berry, Plastic Ono Band, The Doors and Alice Cooper. Another scandal hit him in 1976,  while enjoying his own birthday celebrations he accidentally shot his bass player Norman Owens in the chest. Lewis had been blasting holes in an office door, Owens survived but sued his boss. Today, in 2017 The Killer continues to tour around the world and still releases new albums. His album “Last Man Standing” is his best selling to date, with over a million copies sold worldwide. The album features duets with some of Jerry Lee’s most famous fans and friends, such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Little Richard, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, B.B King, Neil Young,  Ringo Starr, John Fogerty and Buddy Guy among others.  This was followed by “Mean Old Man”, which has received some of the best sales of Lewis’s career. His 1964 live album “Live at the Star Club, Hamburg” is regarded by music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest live rock albums ever. In 1986 Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1989, his life was chronicled in the biopic “Great Balls of Fire”, starring Dennis Quaid. Jerry Lee Lewis has influenced generations of Rock singers and musicians, through his songs and his stage attitude, today, he turns 84.

Jerry Lee Lewis: A Life In Images

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Watch Jerry Lee Lewis performing “Great Balls Of Fire” in 1957

Listen to highlights of Jerry Lee Lewis career plus  the legendary live album “Live at the Star Club, Hamburg”compiled by Pop Expresso on Spotify

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