No one can question he is a song creator in the great tradition of Al Jolson, Jimmy Rodgers, and Hank Williams.
Born September 29, 1935 in Ferriday Louisiana, about 6 miles from Natchez, Jerry Lee Lewis grew up listening to a variety of music; "The Louisiana Hayride" and "Grand Ol' Opry" broadcasts, 78-rpm recordings of country singers and blues men, and the inspired gospel music of the Assembly of God Church. He also spent hours hiding behind Haney's Big House, a black bar in Ferriday, soaking up the sounds of blues men like B.B. King, who was then 18 years old.
Jerry Lee took these different forms of music and combined them to create a style completely his own. A creator in a world of imitators, Jerry Lee Lewis, will be remembered with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, as one of the true fathers of Rock & Roll.
Jerry Lee began to play piano at age eight on a Stark Upright that his parents, Elmo and Mamie Lewis, mortgaged their farm to buy.
Along with cousins Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Lee Swaggart, Jerry Lee was constantly playing and practicing on the old Stark. His cousins were as Jerry said, "......like my brothers." but as he would later say, "But boys, we're all together now, and I'm gonna tell you something--You all got great talent, but you just got a little of the scrapings. Killer got the talent."
In late 1956, the 21 year old Jerry Lee took his talent to Memphis to 'Eyeball' Sam Phillips at Sun Records after reading a story about Elvis in Country Roundup magazine. His family gathered 33 dozen eggs and sold them to Nelson's Supermarket in Ferriday to finance the trip north. Once there, his life would never be the same.
About six months later, on Sunday, July 28, 1957, The Killer performed to a national television audience on the Steve Allen show with his song Whole Lotta Shakin. That song started moving up the charts and didn't stop until it held the number one spot in all fields of music--Pop, Country & Western, and R&B. Only two other people have accomplished this--Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. However, with his next release, The Killer would leave them all behind.
Great Balls of Fire came to stand atop the Pop, Country, and R&B charts. No one before or since has duplicated this feat, and probably never will.
The summer of 1958 found Jerry Lee on top of the world. His twelve day engagement at the Paramount Theater in New York broke all attendance records, and his third hit Breathless was moving up the charts -- until it all came crashing down during a tour of England in the fall of 1958.
As the story has been told many, many, times, the British press, upon discovering his new bride was only 13 years old and his second cousin (twice removed), attacked him mercilessly. Returning to the states, Jerry Lee faced an equally hostile reaction, and he found himself blacklisted on radio and TV.
Not one to give up, ‘The Killer’ hit the road for an endless string of one-night-stands. As Jerry Lee said, "From $10,000 a night to $250 is a hell of a disappointment," but an unshakable belief in his own talent held him through the rough times.
Three years later, in 1961, things looked better when his re-make of Ray Charles' What'd I Say began to receive airplay. A successful 'Battle of the Century' with Jakie Wilson followed, but it wasn't until the late 1960's when Jerry Lee began to release a string of number one and top-ten country singles that his career regained momentum.
Through it all Jerry Lee never lost faith in God, or in his own God given talent.
Tragedies, such as the deaths of his two sons, have destroyed lesser men, but Jerry Lee Lewis has persevered, and he will never, NEVER! STOP ROCKING!!
"When they look back on me I want 'em to remember me not for all my wives, although I've had a few, and certainly not for any mansions or high livin' money I made and spent. I want 'em to remember me simply for my music..."
"As long as they gimme a piano I'll be out there. They try to take that away, I'm gonna kick some ass."