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Lewis, Jerry Lee Biography


biography of Lewis, Jerry Lee

Killer The Ferriday Fireball
29 September 1935, Ferriday, Louisiana, USA
Jerry Lee Lewis was born on September 29, 1935 into a very religious family . His family, though not very wealthy, sold their house when he was a child to get their son a piano. He loved to play piano. He was sent to a religious school, but was soon thrown out shortly thereafter -- he did a boogie version of a song about Jesus, something the school could not accept. At 17, he married for the first time, but it only lasted seven months. He married a second time three weeks before he his divorce from his first wife was final. His second marriage lasted about four years and produced his first child. In November 1956 he moved in with a cousin, J. W. Brown, in Memphis. They started a band together, with Jerry as singer. They sold a copy of their first song, "Crazy Arms", to the legendary 'Sam Phillips (IV)' (qv), president of Sun Records. Phillips had become famous because of his discovery of 'Elvis Presley' (qv) and 'Johnny Cash (I)' (qv). Phillips liked the song, and Jerry Lee Lewis began to establish his name in Memphis in late 1956. In January 1957, he recorded a new song, the self-penned "End of the Road." It was unusual in that singers did not write their own songs at that time. Jerry was fresh in other ways, too. He not only wrote some of his own songs, he played piano. Other rock singer of that era played guitar, such as 'Elvis Presley' (qv), 'Tommy Steele' (qv), 'Johnny Cash (I)' (qv), 'Chuck Berry (I)' (qv), etc. The piano wasn't considered a rock and roll instrument - Jerry Lee Lewis changed all that. Jerry got his big break in April 1957, when he went to New York and appeared on _"The Steve Allen Show" (1956)_ (qv) with the "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". A couple of #1 hits would soon follow -- "Great Balls of Fire" (which became his signature song), "Breathless" and "High School Confidential". Many people predicted that Jerry Lee would be bigger than the King of Rock-n-Roll - 'Elvis Presley' (qv). In late 1957 the audiences at one of his shows stormed the stage when he set a piano on fire. 'Chuck Berry (I)' (qv) was supposed to have ended the evening's show, but he refused to go on, wisely understanding that he could never top what Jerry just did. Elvis went into the army in the late winter of 1958, so Jerry Lee was now virtually alone at the top of the rock heap. All was not rosy, however. Problems did arise--very serious problems. In 1957, he married for a third time, secretly, to the 13-year-old daughter of his cousin and partner J. W. Brown, 'Myra Gale Brown (I)'. Her parents were deeply hurt when they found out, but after a discussion with 'Sam Phillips (IV)' (qv), they forgave Jerry. The marriage was unknown to the press and fans until Jerry's arrival in England for a tour in the spring of 1958. Fans again stormed the stage -- but this time to express their disgust. The marriage was front-page news around the world. His career was in shambles. He had just signed a five-year contract with Sun Records, and he did continue to record songs until 1963. During the last years of the contract, however, he made very few rock songs. Most of his compositions were ballads, possibly due to his depression at the direction his career had taken. Jerry and Myra had one son, Steve Allen Lewis, who drowned at age three. The couple divorced in 1970, after 13 years of bad treatment in the press. However, Jerry's career was not completely finished. In 1968 he made his great comeback, as a country singer. During the next few years, he performed more and more rock 'n' roll. He married a fourth time in October 1971 but the marriage ended two years later, after producing one child. That same year, Jerry's son from his first marriage died in an auto accident. The combination of divorce, personal tragedies and his career stagnation contributed to his turning to the bottle, and for the next 15 years Jerry had a severe drinking problem. His drinking also contributed to a rash of health problems, and he almost died of a ruptured stomach in 1981. People thought that The Killer was finished. But he wasn't. Jerry Lee Lewis puts on brilliant concerts even today, in his 70's, and with his wild life behind him. He divorced his sixth wife in the summer of 2005, after over 20 years of marriage. He is still a wild man - and he is still on fire!
Snorre Mathiesen

-   'Shawn Stephens' (7 June 1983 - 22 August 1983) (her death)

-   'Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate' (7 October 1971 - 8 June 1982) (her death); 1 child

-   'Kerrie McCarver' (24 April 1984 - 15 June 2005) (divorced); 2 children

-   'Myra Lewis (I)' (qv) (12 December 1957 - 9 December 1970) (divorced); 2 children

-   'Jane Mitchum' (15 September 1953 - 1957) (divorced); 2 children

-   'Dorothy Barton' (21 February 1952 - 8 October 1953) (divorced)

-   'Judith Brown' (9 March 2012 - present)

-   At her ten-year high school reunion, 'Janis Joplin' (qv) introduced her younger sister to Lewis, who was a guest. Lewis commented to her that "you wouldn't be half-bad-looking if you weren't trying to look like your sister." Janis slugged Lewis for the comment. Lewis slugged her back, saying, "If you're gonna act like a man, I'm gonna treat you like one!".

-   His eldest son, Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. (b. 1953), was killed in an auto accident in 1973. His second son, Steven Allen Lewis (b. 1959), drowned, at age three, in 1962.

-   Cousin of 'Jimmy Swaggart' (qv) and 'Mickey Gilley' (qv).

-   A first year inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

-   Almost died from a ruptured stomach in 1981.

-   Parents' names were Elmo Lewis and Mamie Ethel.

-   His first cousin, once removed 'Myra Lewis (I)' (qv) was 13 years old when they married.

-   He got his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame 13 June 1989.

-   Revitalized his career in the late 1960s as a country singer.

-   He was voted the 24th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.

-   He received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 2005.

-   Hospitalized with pneumonia in 2001.

-   Was on the critical list in a Memphis hospital in November 1985.

-   (2005) He currently lives in Booneville, Mississippi, USA.

-   Is portrayed by 'Dennis Quaid' (qv) in _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv), by 'Waylon Payne' (qv) in _Walk the Line (2005)_ (qv), and 'James C. Victor' (qv) in _Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999) (TV)_ (qv).

-   Recorded with legendary Nashville session guitarist 'Hank Garland' (qv).

-   Recorded his song "What'd I Say" with guitarist 'Hank Garland' (qv).

-   Along with 'Elvis Presley' (qv), 'Johnny Cash (I)' (qv) and 'Carl Perkins (I)' (qv), Lewis was a member of the celebrated "Million Dollar Quartet", so named because they were money-makers for 'Sam Phillips (IV)' (qv)' Sun Records label.

-   Hated his ex-wife 'Myra Lewis (I)' (qv)' biographical book about his life entitled "Great Balls of Fire".

-   Hated the film based on his life, _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv).

-   Was in the process of finalizing a divorce from his fourth wife, Jaren, when she drowned in a swimming pool in 1982. They had separated in 1974.

-   By the time of The British Invasion (1964) in The US, there was a keen interest in American rock stars in Great Britain. Jerry Lee appeared to have renewed his career on that side of the Atlantic. He appeared on "Ready Steady Go" a TV pop show, and the fans were mesmerized by his performance.

-   Siblings: 'Linda Gail Lewis' (qv) (b. 1947), Frankie Jean Lewis (b. 1944) and Elmo Lewis Jr.

-   Father, with Kerri McCarver, of a boy named Jerry Lee Lewis III (b. 1987).

-   Father, with Myra, of a boy named Steven Allen Lewis (1959-1962) and a girl named Phoebe Allen Lewis (b. 1963).

-   Father, with Jane Mitchum, of two boys named Jerry Lee Lewis Jr (1953-1973) and Ronnie Guy Lewis (b. 1956).

-   Contrary to public assumption, Lewis said that he actually had the nickname "Killer" ever since childhood. As a boy, he had the habit of calling acquaintances and friends "Killer," and they would return the greeting. The nickname has stuck with him since.

-   His 1964 album "Live at the Star Club, Hamburg" has been widely hailed as the hardest, pure rock 'n' roll ever recorded.

-   He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

-   The use of his middle name Lee, helped the record buying public as well as record distributors distinguish him from comedian Jerry Lewis, who in 1956, at the height of his career, had a Top 10 recording with "Rock A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody", a song first made famous by Al Jolson. That same year, Jerry Lewis also had a best selling album. Coincidentaly, Both Jerry and Jerry Lee have cited Al Jolson, seen playing the piano in "The Jazz Singer"(1927), as a major influence.

-   On 9/27/57, he played NYCs legendary Apollo Theater.

-   By the time Jerry Lee made his made first appearance July 27, 1957 on "The Steve Allen Show", he had already caught the public's attention, "in name only". One year earlier, in 1956, comedian Jerry Lewis embarked on what was initially a successful recording career. He had a #10 US Pop hit with the Al Jolson standard "Rock A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody", in addition to a best selling LP of standard tunes. Coincidentally, Jerry Lee has cited Al Jolson as one of his influences.

-   Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

-   Had #1 songs in 1957, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (Sun), "Great Balls of Fire" (Sun)

-   'Nick Tosches (II)' (qv). _Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story._ New York: Dell Books, 1982.

-   Jerry Guterman. _Rockin' My Life Away: Listening to Jerry Lee Lewis._ Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1991.

-   Robert Cain. _Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On: Jerry Lee Lewis._ New York: Dial Press, 1981.

-   'Myra Lewis (I)' (qv). _Great Balls of Fire._

-   Joe Bonomo. _Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found._ London: Continuum, 2009. ISBN 0826429661

-   [on his being a breech birth]"I was born feet first, and I've been jumpin' ever since."

-   If I'm going to Hell, I'm going there to play on a piano!

-   [on 'Ray Charles (I)' (qv)] "What a great guy he was. Every time I saw him, I would say, 'Ray, this is Jerry Lee, how you doing?' And he would say, 'Well, you looking good, Jerry Lee.' He always said that. He was one of my best friends."

-   [Explaining why 'W.C. Fields' (qv) is his favorite comedian] "He's just got his way of doing things. And if you don't like it, he'll kick your teeth out."

-   [on his feelings towards ex-wife 'Myra Lewis (I)' (qv)' biography about him entitled "Great Balls of Fire"] "I says to her, 'Myra, that damn book o' yours -- that weren't no "Great Balls of Fire" you wrote. You shoulda called it "Great Buncha Balls" instead, darlin', 'cos that's all it is."

-   [on the film _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv)]: "I never acted like that in my life. That movie was bad news."

-   [Referring to the film _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv)]: "It's all lies. Maybe not lies, but it's their story, not mine."

-   [on 'The Killer']: People think I'm called 'The Killer' because of my wild lifestyle. I've had the nickname since I was a boy. I started calling other kids Killer. But the name stuck with me. Even now, I'll ask someone, 'How's it going, Killer?'

-   [How he got the nickname Killer]: I got the name when I was about 15 years old: I was leaving the schoolhouse, and Cecil Harrelson said, 'Well, I'll see you later, Killer' - and I said, 'OK, I'll meet you at the pool hall!' We both got suspended that day - two weeks apiece, and we didn't even know each other - we'd just met. I was fighting with a teacher, he was fighting with a teacher, and so we figured we'd call ourselves Killer. And that's how it got started.

-   I never considered myself the greatest, but I'm the best.

-   _Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends (1989) (V)_ (qv)

-   _Jerry Lee Lewis: The Story of Rock & Roll (1991) (V)_ (qv)

-   _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv)

-   _Great Balls of Fire! (1989)_ (qv)

-   _Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999) (TV)_ (qv)

-   _Walk the Line (2005)_ (qv)

-   (April 2002) Lewis and 6th wife Kerrie announce their separation and intent to divorce.

-   (October 2004) On his Killer Tour over Europe. On October 15, he performed in Prague, The Czech Republic and refused a meeting with the Czech president. On October 18, he was on stage in Sofia, Bulgaria and refused to give an interview for the National Televison.

-   "Oui" (USA), May 1981, Vol. 10, Iss. 5, pg. 66-69+86, by: Stuart Goldman, "Jerry Lee Lewis, WHite Wild Man of Rock"

-   "The Observer Music Monthly" (UK), January 2010, Iss. 76, pg. 10 - 11, by: Ray Davies, "Hellfire Pianist"

-   "Rolling Stone" (USA), 19 October 2006, Vol. 1, Iss. 1011, pg. 114-122+135, by: Charles M. Young, ""The KIller Reloaded""

-   "Le Soir" (Belgium), 21 June 2005, pg. 30, "Recordman du divorce ?"

-   "Playboy" (USA), February 2005, Vol. 52, Iss. 2, pg. 74-78+132-139, by: Robert Gordon, "Natural Born Killer"

-   "Jukebox Magazine" (France), January 2004, Iss. 199, pg. 52-54, by: Jean-William Thoury, "Les rois du rock"

-   "Fame" (USA), June 1989, Vol. 2, Iss. 6, pg. 104-113, by: Chet Flippo, "In the Shadow of Elvis"

-   "Fiesta" (UK), November 1985, Vol. 19, Iss. 11, pg. 22-23, by: Brian O'Hanlon, "Scandal Sheet: Jerry Lee Lewis"

-   "Metro" (Netherlands), 17 April 2008, "Jerry Lee Lewis

-   Chuck Berry Legends of Rock 'N Roll Woensdag 19 november Heineken Music Hall"

-   "Partner Sex Stars" (USA), 1982, Vol. 2, Iss. S, pg. 19-29, by: B.T. & Co., "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On!"

-   "The Observer Music Monthly" (UK), January 2010

All Pictures

Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last.
Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last.
Jerry Lee Lewis knocked 'em dead at 'Opry' | Tune In Music City ...
Jerry Lee Lewis knocked 'em dead at 'Opry' | Tune In Music City

Great Balls of Scandal: How Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to a 13-year ...
Great Balls of Scandal: How Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to a 13-year
Jerry Lee Lewis Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.
Jerry Lee Lewis Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.

Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last.
Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Through the Years : Memphis Photo Galleries : The ...
Jerry Lee Lewis: Through the Years : Memphis Photo Galleries : The

Jerry Lee Lewis and Wife Memphis Airport 1958 | Z ROCK BLOG
Jerry Lee Lewis and Wife Memphis Airport 1958 | Z ROCK BLOG
Jerry_Lee_Lewis_@_Credicard_ ...
Jerry_Lee_Lewis_@_Credicard_ ...

Photos of Lewis, Jerry Lee
Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last. Jerry Lee Lewis knocked 'em dead at 'Opry' | Tune In Music City ... Great Balls of Scandal: How Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to a 13-year ... Jerry Lee Lewis Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography. Jerry Lee Lewis – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at Last. Jerry Lee Lewis: Through the Years : Memphis Photo Galleries : The ... Jerry Lee Lewis and Wife Memphis Airport 1958 | Z ROCK BLOG Jerry_Lee_Lewis_@_Credicard_ ...
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  25. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (1992) {(#14.210)}
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  27. The 47th Annual Grammy Awards (2005) (TV)
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  31. My Kinda People (2003) (TV)
  32. Rock at Fifty (2003) (TV)
  33. The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection (2003) (V)
  34. The Definitive Elvis: The Army Years (2002) (V)
  35. "American Masters" (1985) {Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records (#16.5)}
  36. "Biography" (1987) {Jimmy Swaggart: Fire and Brimstone}
  37. "WWF SmackDown!" (1999) {(#3.6)}
  38. Johnny Cash: Half Mile a Day (2000) (V)
  39. Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock'n'Roll (2000) (TV)
  40. "Century of Country" (1999)
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  42. Hollywood Rocks 'N' Rolls in the 50's (1999) (V)
  43. In Dreams: The Roy Orbison Story (1999) (TV)
  44. "Behind the Music" (1997) {Jerry Lee Lewis (#1.19)}
  45. "Super Dave" (1987) {(1998-10-21)}
  46. "America's Music: The Roots of Country" (1996)
  47. "Rock & Roll" (1995)
  48. The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1995) (TV)
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  1. Great Balls of Fire! (1989) (production advisor)