He started playing the piano at age 9, replicating the styles of preachers and black musicians. In 1958, Lewis married his 13-year old cousin causing a record boycott but Lewis continued performing and made a recovery. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
With his progressive and flamboyant piano playing and catchy uptempo tunes, Jerry Lee Lewis emerged as among rock music’s early showman in the 1950s. He was born in the tiny community of Ferriday, Louisiana, where his musical gifts became evident early on. On the radio, Lewis listened to such shows as Grand Ole Opry as well as The Louisiana Hayride. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Al Jolson were some of his early effects.
When he was 10 years old, Lewis got a piano of his own. His dad mortgaged the family farm to purchase the instrument. He gave his first public performance in the age of 14. Lewis wowed the crowd assembled for the opening of an area car dealership along with his piano art. With little formal schooling, he essentially gave up on school around now to concentrate on music. Lewis did, nevertheless, briefly attend a Bible school in Texas.
This session from the “Million Dollar Quartet” was recorded in the time, but it had not been released until much later.
In 1957, Lewis became a star along with his exceptional piano-driven sound. With this time, Lewis had also developed a few of his well-known stage antics, like playing standing up and even light the occasional piano on fire. He’d such vigor and excitement in his performances which he earned the nickname “The Killer” for the manner he knocked out his crowds.
Lewis seemed to be on a roll. The following March, Lewis hit again with “Breathless,” which made to the Top of the pop charts. Behind the scenes, nevertheless, some of Lewis’s life picks would shortly place a tamper on his career.
Lewis already had two short marriages under his belt when he chose to wed his cousin Myra Gale Brown in 1957. On their marriage license, Brown said she was 20 years old, but she was truly just 13 in the time. News of his underage bride broke as Lewis began a tour of Great Britain in 1958, creating this kind of outcry the tour was immediately cancelled. Even when Lewis returned to the States, he discovered that he got a less-than-warm welcome house. Radio stations refused to play his tunes, and Lewis had trouble lining up any live performances.
He performed the song in the movie by the exact same name starring Mamie Van Doren and Russ Tamblyn.
He found a fresh vocation as a country musician, scoring a hit with 1968’s “Another Place, Another Time.” Lewis recorded several country records during the the next couple of years, including 1970’s Olde Tyme Country Music and 1975’s Boogie Woogie Country Man.
Lewis never left the rock world entirely. In 1973, he did well on the record charts using The Session. He revisited a number of his older tunes along with the works of Chuck Berry and John Fogerty on this popular record. In his private life, nevertheless, Lewis appeared to be fighting. He was detained for driving while intoxicated in Memphis in 1973, as well as a bleeding ulcer nearly cost him his life in 1981.
Fortunately, the remaining 1980s turned out much better for the music star. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, becoming among the first performers to receive this honour. Lewis was played by actor Dennis Quaid.
This almost lifelong musician and vocalist continues to record new music and perform. He’s released two well-received records in the past couple of years. For 2006’s Last Man Standing, Lewis sang several rock, blues and country classics with a few help from such well-known admirers as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Buddy Guy. Collaborator Kristofferson described Lewis as “among the few who can do rock ‘n’ roll, country or soul, and every tune is bona fide.” He told USA Today that Lewis is “among the most effective American voices ever.”
Lewis and Kristofferson worked together again on Lewis’s following attempt, 2010’s Mean Old Man. The all star guests with this release, comprised Eric Clapton, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and John Fogerty among others.
His daughter, Phoebe Lewis, has worked as his supervisor and served as a producer on a number of his records. Phoebe is from his third marriage to Myra Gale Brown. The couple wed in 2012.