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Biography

Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the all time great icons of popular music. He is a founding father of Rock and Roll. His unique piano playing is a primal force of modern music. He is one of the great vocalists of popular music. His versatility is as renowned as his originality. As well as Rock and Roll he has made prodigious contributions to Rythum and Blues, Country and Western and Gospel music. He is a charasmatic performer who can command and enthral a live audience like no other. Enormous as his contribution to music has been he is often just as famous or infamous for his so called wild personal life.

The extraordinary life of Jerry Lee Lee Lewis began on 29th of September 1935 in Ferriday Louisiana U.S.A. He was born to Elmo and Maimie Lewis into dirt poor white trash poverty. Apart from a large extended family the young Jerry Lee's main socializing took place at the Assembly Of God church in Ferriday. It was here that he was first introduced to the piano and it was in the church that he first learnt to sing. When he was nine his mother declared, "I believe Jerry lee is a natural born piano player". His parents mortgaged their house to buy him a piano. He has said that within a couple of months he had mastered it. His father would load the upright on the back of his truck and Jerry Lee would tour the local area playing and singing. He recently recalled how after one performance the hat was taken around and he earned the grand total of nine dollars which was at the time more money than he had ever seen.


As a teenager he was torn between his religious background and the music he heard and loved to play in the local honky-tonks. A travelling preacherand his daughter came to town. Jerry lee and the girl became involved. In an attempt to avoid a scandal Jerry lee married Dorothy. And to apease his in-laws and his wife he went to Texas to study at a Bible College to become a preacher. However his wild piano playing in the church caused him to be expelled. He left his wife Dorothy and became involved and with another girl Jane Mitcham. She became pregnant and Jerry lee without divorcing Dorothy married Jane. They had a child Jerry Lee Lewis jnr.

In his early twenties Jerry lee formed a band with his cousin J.W. Brown and through J.W. met J.W.'s young daughter Myra. Jerry Lee had heard a record from another local singer Elvis Presley. He decided to go to the 'Sun Studios' in Memphis and see if he too could get a record out. At 'Sun' Jack Clements first heard and recorded Jerry lee doing a version of 'Crazy Arms'. This was released and became a local hit. Sam Phillips the owner of 'Sun Records' was very impressed with the young piano player and organised more recording sessions. Jerry Lee and Myra had become involved by this time and although he had not divorced Dorothy or Jane he married for a third time. He was 22, Myra was 13. This occurred in the midst of his work at 'Sun'. Out of these early sessions came some of the great classics of Rock and Roll as well as some of the finest country, gospel and rhythum and blues work in the history of American music.

Jerry Lee's public debut really occurred on the Steve Allen Show with his extraordinary performance of 'Whole lotta Shakin Goin On'. This rocketed Jerry Lee into the national and international spotlight. 'Whole Lotta Shakin' was followed by 'Great Balls Of Fire' - and Jerry Lee's place in modern music history was assured. Tom Jones has said that the recording of 'Great Balls Of Fire' was the real beginning of Rock And Roll. Following 'Great balls Of Fire' came two more rock classics: 'High School Confidential' and 'Breathless'.

In 1958 on a tour in England the press discoved that Myra was 13 and Jerry lee's cousin. Jerry Lee himself saw no reason to hide either fact but it outraged conservative England and his tour was cancelled and he was hounded out of the country. In the U.S.A. his reception was little better. His records were band from the airways and for all intents and purposes his carrer was finished.

Myra gave birth to a son Steve Allen in 1959. Only three years latter tragedy struck when Stevie accidentally drowned in the family swinmming pool. Throughout the early sixties Jerry lee continued to work in and out of the recording studio. After his contract with 'Sun' expired he went to 'Mecury Records' and there began a second extraordinary period of creativity. During this time his live performances became legenday and two recordings from this period are 'The Greatest Live Show On Earth' and 'Live At The Star Club', are considered classics. He produced some fine Rhythum and Blues music with the albums 'Soul My Way' and 'Memphis Beat' but it was only when he returened whole heartedly to country music that his carrer took off again. During the late sixties and throughout the seventies Jerry lee on 'Mercury Records' recorded a string of classic country albums such as 'Another Place Another Time', 'There Must be More to Love Than This', 'Would You Take Another chance On Me?', 'Sometimes A Memory Aint Enough', 'The Country Hall Of Fame Vols. I and II', and 'Country Memories'. As well as string of country hits during this time he produced some great Rock And Roll recordings. His 1972 album 'The Killer Rocks On', his 1973 'The Session In London' and the follow up album 'Southern Roots' are unsurpassable in their energy and creativity.

However while his professional carrer had hit new heights his personal life was once again troubled. In the early seventies Myra divorced him ending their 18 year marriage. Tragedy struck too again with the death of his son Jerry Lee Jnr. in an automobile acident.

It has been said the late seventies read like a police bulletin board for Jerry Lee. He was arrested a number of time for firearms violations and drink driving offences. He accidentally shot his base player and was arrested outside 'Graceland's' with a weapon. He married again to Jaren his fourth wife. During this period his health suffered from his alcohol and drug use. At this time too he was mercilessly hounded by the I.R.S.

In 1978 he signed with 'Electra Records' and once again produced a series of great albums. His first for the new label a self titled album was a true 'killer' piece of work. 'Rockin My Life Away', 'No.1 Lovin Man' and 'I Wish I Was 18 again' are just three of the excellent tracks from this session. He followed this up with 'When Two Worlds Collide' and 'Killer Country'. These albums are like Jerry lee himself -
strong uncompromising and creatively stunning.

It was during this time with 'Electra' that Jaren died accidentally in a swimming pool accident. The following year with his 50th birthday coming up Jerry Lee took his fifth wife Shawn. Two months latter she died of a drug overdose.

In 1982 Nick Tosches wrote the Jerry lee Biography entitled'Hellfire'. It was said by 'Rolling Stone' to be the best Rock and Roll biography ever written. At this time he was recording with M.C.A. 'Let My Fingers Do the Talkin' 'Get Out Your Big Roll Daddy'and 'I Am What I Am' were three great albums from this period.

Jerry Lee married again to Kerrie McCarver and she gave him a son Jerry lee III in early 1987. In 1989 the hollywood film 'Great Balls Of Fire' was released and once again Jerry lee was in vogue.

In 1995 he wrote his own story 'Killer' with Charles White and a recorded the 'Electra/Sire' album 'Youngblood'. This was a fine showcase of his musical genius. The album contained rock, rhythum and blues, traditional country and some modern piano classics done in the unique Jerry Lee Lewis style. It was in Jerry Lee's view "the best album I've ever made."

In the year 2001 Jerry Lee was honoured by the 'Smithsonian Institute' for his contribution to American life. The 'Smithsonian' produced a T.V. doco. entitled, 'The Piano Grand' in which Jerry Lee appeared with other great exponents of the piano.

In 2002 it was announced that Jerry lee and Kerrie would be divorcing. 

The music world is hoping he will return to the recording studio soon.


With his musical genius and his extradordinary endurance in the face of great tragedy Jerry Lee has the status of a living legend. To see him in Concert is to be a witness to true greatness.

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