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Jerry Lee Lewis, 87 Years Old, the Crazy Rock Star Has Passed Away
The legendary singer and pianist Jerry Lee Lewis passed away on October 28 at his home in Southaven, Mississippi. His unrestrained performances and scandalous life epitomized the individual rebellion at the core of rock and roll music. He was 87. His publicist, Zach Farnum, announced his death but did not specify the circumstances.
Who is Jerry Lee Lewis? How He Died
Jerry Lee Lewis, 87, who sang “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” died Friday.
A spokeswoman said Lewis died at his Mississippi home south of Memphis. He was the last of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. TMZ reported his death two days earlier. “The Killer” captured the attraction and risk of 1950s rock like few others.
Seniors should sing delicate tunes. Lewis’ leering tenor, demanding asides, chaotic tempos, violent glissandi, cocky sneer, and crazy blond hair showed passion and fulfillment. During a 1957 performance of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” on “The Steve Allen Show,” chairs were thrown at him.
“Rockabilly, Elvis. A fan stated Jerry Lee Lewis invented rock ‘n’ roll. He admired Jerry Lee Lewis. He raged in secret, which nearly ended his career then and today. Elvis was hired in 1958 as a rock hitmaker. Lewis’s England excursion revealed three harmful facts: He married his 13-year-old cousin and his ex-wife. His tour was canceled, he was blacklisted from radio, and his sales fell.
Lewis said in 2014, “I would have ordered my life differently, but I never hid anything.” Normal life resumed. Lewis battled addiction, court difficulties, and illness for decades. Young wives predeceased him. In the 1970s, Brown divorced him, claiming physical and mental abuse nearly pushed her to suicide. Read also: Was Hunter’s Death Caused by a Change in Custody?
She’d be dead if she were still married to Jerry.
The music business forgave Lewis once he became a country singer in the 1960s. Three Grammys and recordings with legends. Lewis’ 2006 album “Last Man Standing” included Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, and George Jones. Jagger, Richards, Crow, McGraw, and others appeared on “Mean Old Man”
He describes urging DJs to give him a second chance in “The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll” This time, he remarked, “Let’s draw a line.” Lewis sang classics live but the country on the radio. From 1967-1970, Lewis had the top 10 country songs. “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)” and “She Still Comes Around” were among his drinking tunes. Live at the Star Club, Hamburg is a classic live CD.
Lewis broke Opry rules by cussing and singing non-country songs in 1973. He stated, “I’m a rock-and-roll, country-and-western, R&B mother—er.”
Seven times married, Lewis was rarely safe. 1982 divorce applicant Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate drowned. In 1983, Shawn Stephens overdosed. Lewis later married Kerrie McCarver, 21. In 1986, she divorced him for violence and infidelity. Both were denied. In 2005, they divorced. Son Jerry Lee III.
Steve Allen Lewis, 3, drowned in 1962, and Jerry Lee Jr., 19, died in 1973. Lewis is survived by Judith, Phoebe, and Lori Leigh. He was broke. Lewis gained millions but owed the IRS hundreds of thousands. In 1994, he began greeting visitors to his house near Nesbit, Mississippi, with a $2.75-per-minute recorded message. Read also: A Women Died at Patrol Station, Family Member Believe It is a Murder
The Early Life of Jerry Lee Lewis
Lewis is the son of bootlegger Elmo Lewis and cousin of Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley (Swaggart and Lewis recorded “The Boys From Ferriday” earlier this year). As a youngster, he played guitar but wanted a piano, something only the wealthy could afford. His father’s dark-wood upright piano changed his life.
Lewis claimed, “My eyes flew out of my head” in Rick Bragg’s book. Read also: Mexico anti-dam activist, Un Rights Office Condemns Dam-death Fighter’s
He began playing piano and visiting black juke joints to absorb gospel and boogie-woogie. He quit school at 16 to become a priest who played secular and spiritual music. Lewis was fired from a Texas Bible college for playing “bad” music.
“Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’” were Lewis’ most famous tunes. “High School Confidential” and “Breathless” were Lewis’s only other commercial hits, but they established him as a rock ‘n’ roll architect.
John Lennon said, “Whole Lotta Shakin'” had never been topped in 1970.
Lewis, a young roadhouse veteran, joined Sun Records in 1956, where Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash recorded. Lewis learned rock ‘n roll from Sam Phillips and recorded “Whole Lotta Shakin'” in one take.
It was a hit when he chopped it. Sam Phillips thought it was too controversial. Apologies if that’s offensive.
In 1986, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He joined the Country Hall of Fame this year. The Killer outlived his predecessors and was reintroduced to younger audiences in “Great Balls of Fire” and “Trouble in Mind” (2022) Lewis, Elvis, Perkins, and Cash inspired “Million Dollar Quartet.”
1987 Grammy for spoken-word album, 2005 Grammy for lifetime achievement. “Whole Lotta Shakin'” was added to the National Recording Registry the next year for its “propulsive boogie piano” and “energetic drumming” Listeners, like Lewis, couldn’t sit still. Read also: Memphis Man Charged in Neighbor’s Killing in Macomb Co.
Pearry Greenafterwards questioned Lewis if he still played devil’s music.
Lewis agreed. My expelled music is now played in churches. They don’t know I play for Satan.”
The untamable rock ‘n’ roll pioneer whose outrageous talent, energy, and ego collided on such definitive records as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and sustained a career that would have otherwise been upended by personal scandal passed away on Friday morning at the age of 87.
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