Jerry Lee Lewis
Grammy Awards, 2005
JERRY LEE LEWIS
(a.k.a. The Killer)
‘I just am what I am; Jerry Lee fucked up Lewis, and if you don’t like that you can kiss my ass, boy’ (Jerry Lee, BBC ‘Arena’, 1990)
‘Just think what a dull old world it would be without a Jerry Lee Lewis in it.’
HIS HITS. The following records all made the Top Twenty Pop, Jukebox, Indie, Rock and/or Country charts in USA or UK. Those shown in red made #1 on at least one of these charts. (Cashboard or Billboard U.S. charts). 47 singles plus 23 albums (The Session counted as 2 albums) made the Top Twenty in all, 14 reached #1 position. Those marked * were official gold records (10 gold disks in all, the latest in the 21st Century for Last Man Standing released 2006). Mercury also issued many of its own ‘gold’ records for all his Country hits which sold over 250,000 copies. Jerry Lee Lewis is also among the Top 50 all-time Billboard Country artists, and was nominated (but not inaugurated) as a candidate for inauguration into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004. (Updated information on chart entries thanks to Paul MacPhail’s book ‘The Ferriday Fireball’). It is also suggested that the soundtrack album to the movie, ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, has now sold over a million copies. The original Sun cut of ‘Great Balls of Fire’ was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, and Jerry’s Sun recording of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On’ received this honor in 1999. Only recordings which are at least 25 years old and have left a lasting impression can receive this honor. Along with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison, Jerry received a Grammy in the spoken word category for the very rare album of interviews released with some early copies of the ‘The Class of 55′ album in 1986. On February 12th, 2005 Jerry received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award the day before the Recording Academy’s main Grammy Awards ceremony, which he also attended, picture below. In May 2007 Jerry received the Comeback Album of the Year award for ‘Last Man Standing’ at the 28th Blues Music Awards. On October 10th, 2007 Jerry received the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters Award (scroll down to near bottom of page for picture of Lewis receiving his Award from Kris Kristofferson.) In January 2009 Jerry was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, reserved for artists who have had multiple Top Ten hits. Jerry Lee Lewis is also currently listed among the Top 50 All Time Billboard Country artists.
To the hippies and flower-children at the Toronto Peace Festival in 1969: ‘I love ya like a hog loves slop’
1957: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On*, Great Balls of Fire/You Win Again** (both sides went gold).
1958: Breathless*, High School Confidential*/Fools Like Me, I’ll Make It All Up To You.
1959: Lovin’ Up A Storm (reached #8 in UK Jukebox chart of May 23rd, 1959)
1961: What’d I Say.
1962: Album ‘Jerry Lee’s Greatest’ (Jerry Lee Lewis Volume Two) reached UK Top Twenty.
1968: Another Place Another Time, What’s Made Milwaukee Famous, She Still Comes Around, To Make Love Sweeter For You.
Album ‘Another Place Another Time’ reached Top Ten.
1969: Don’t Let Me Cross Over (with Linda Gail Lewis), One Has My Name, Invitation To Your Party, She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye, One Minute Past Eternity, Roll Over Beethoven (with Linda Gail Lewis).
Album ‘She Still Comes Around’ reached Top Ten. Album ‘JLL Sings The Country Music Hall of Fame Hits Vol.1′ reached #1. Vol.2 also reached Top Ten, as did an album of duets with Linda Gail Lewis ‘Together’.
Cashbox magazine votes Jerry #1 male country vocalist of the year.
Billboard votes Jerry ‘Country Music Artist of the Year’
1970: Once More With Feeling, I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye, There Must Be More To Love Than This, Waiting For A Train.
Albums ‘She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye’ , ‘The Best of Jerry Lee Lewis’ , ‘Jerry Lee Lewis Live At The International Hotel, Las Vegas’ all reach Top Ten.
Cashbox Magazine votes Jerry #2 top male country vocalist of the year.
1971: Touching Home, When He Walks On You, Would You Take Another Chance On Me/Me And Bobby McGhee*.
Albums ‘In Loving Memories’, ”There Must Be More To Love Than This’ ,’Touching Home’ and ‘Would You Take Another Chance On Me’ all reach Top Ten.
1972: Think About It Darlin’/Chantilly Lace*, Lonely Weekends, Who’s Gonna Play This Old Piano.
Albums ‘The Killer Rocks On’ and ‘Who’s Gonna Play This Old Piano’ reach Top Ten.
1973: No More Hanging On, Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee*, Sometimes A Memory Ain’t Enough.
Double album ‘The Session’ reaches Top Ten Country and goes gold*. Reaches #37 Pop charts. Albums ‘Sometimes A Memory Ain’t Enough’ and ‘Southern Roots’ reach Country Top Ten.
1974: Tell Tale Signs, He Can’t Fill My Shoes.
1975: I Can Still Hear The Music In The Restroom.
Album ‘Boogie Woogie Country Man’ reaches Top Twenty. CMA names Jerry instrumentalist of the year for piano.
1976: Let’s Put It Back Together Again.
Album ‘Country Class’ reaches Top Twenty.
1977: Middle Age Crazy.
1978: Come On In, I’ll Find It Where I Can.
1979: Rockin’ My Life Away, I Wish I Was 18 Again, Who Will The Next Fool Be.
1980: When Two Worlds Collide, Over The Rainbow.
1981: 39 And Holdin’.
1986: Album ‘Class of ’55′ (also featuring Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison) reaches Top Twenty, and given a Grammy Award.
2005: Jerry Lee Lewis awarded the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 47th Grammy Awards. The Recording Academy described Jerry as: ‘Rock’n’Roll’s first great wild man… he created his own unique brand of music by ignoring musical boundaries and merging blues, gospel, country and rock. His work has transcended fads and fashions and is considered one of the best collections of American music in existence.’
2006: Album ‘Last Man Standing’* goes straight into Billboard Pop Charts at #26. Straight to #1 of Indie Chart, #4 Country and #8 Rock. The Album shot straight into the Top Ten of the CIMS (Coalition of Independent Music Stores) chart, hitting #9 spot a few days after release. It also reach #6 on the Americana Radio Chart, and was in Billboard’s Top 25 Indie albums of 2006. It is his first hit album for 20 years, and reached the highest position in the charts of any album in his entire 50 year career! Last Man Standing placed at #35 in Top 50 albums of the year by Mojo Magazine. The album was also BBC Radio 2′s Album Of The Week and tracks from it were played at least twice a day for the week of it’s official UK release from December 4th 2006. In Amazon Editor’s pick ‘Best Rock albums of 2006′ LMS was #7. In March 2007 the ‘Last Man Standing Live’ DVD was released (much of which was broadcast on American Public Service Broadcasting stations). This was recorded in 2006 and has a similar format to the CD, but with some different guest artists. A year after release the CD had sold over half a million copies worldwide, his biggest selling album ever. In 2007 the album was voted Comeback Album of the Year at the Memphis Blues Awards.
2010: Album ‘Mean Old Man’ goes straight into Billboard 200 album chart at #30, #10 Rock and #11 in the Tastemakers’ chart. Killer does it yet again!
Unprecedented honor to Jerry Lee and Last Man Standing – U.S. postal services issued an 87c stamp depicting the cover of the album with Jerry standing at a burning piano. I thought only deceased people appeared on U.S. stamps, and wonder if any other album in history has been similarly honored?
‘Well I was raised in Ferriday, Louisiana. A small town of about 5,000 people. 30,000 I believe now, there’s been a lot of fuckin’ goin’ on since I left!’
‘I love you still…. er, not TOO still, baby. Might get accused of something!’ (Memphis 67th birthday party/Convention, 2002. Ad-lib at end of Hank Williams’ ‘You Win Again’. The reference is to false media insinuations that Jerry might somehow have been responsible for the tragic death of his fifth wife, Shawn, whom he found dead in bed from a methadone overdose in 1983.)
THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC:
Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the most underestimated artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Just a glance at the hit records above will testify to that (many people think he only had one or two hits in the 1950s). Of course Jerry would have had even more hit records had his records not been banned from airplay in 1958, and if he hadn’t ceased to have a regular record label since 1984. These periods represent over 26 wasted years when his recordings were not given airplay – many of his recordings during these periods were not even released for years, and some excellent recordings have still not yet seen the light of day (the famed Caribou Ranch sessions from 1980 for instance).
Much has been written and said about Jerry Lee’s private life, so let’s get that out of the way first. He was expelled from Waxahatchie Bible Institue in Texas, where he was studying to be a preacher, for rocking up the piano accompaniment to ‘My God Is Real’. He first got married at 15 to Dorothy Barton, a preacher’s daughter. A shotgun wedding ceremony to Jane Mitcham was apparently conducted before Jerry got a divorce from Dorothy. When news of his third marriage broke during a tour of England in 1958, the British press made much of the fact that Myra Gale Brown was his 13-year old cousin, and that he’d married her before divorcing his second wife. Jerry is reported to have said he didn’t need to divorce Jane since his marriage to her was bigamous and therefore not legal, but he went thru a second wedding ceremony with Myra after divorcing Jane just to make sure it was all legal. The marriage to Myra lasted 13 years, then Jerry married Jaren Pate. She was later to be found drowned in a swimming pool, but this was after she and Jerry had separated. Marriage number 5 was to Shawn Michelle Stevens but sadly she died of a drug overdose a few weeks after they were married. Jerry is now divorced from his sixth wife, Kerrie McCarver Lewis. They have a son, Lee, and an adopted son, Derek. Jerry also has a daughter, Phoebe, by his marriage to Myra.
Tragedy has stalked Jerry Lee all his life. His elder brother Elmo was run over by a truck in 1938 when Jerry was only 3 years old. Jerry and Myra’s son, Steve Allen Lewis, was drowned in their Memphis swimming pool in 1962. Another son, Jerry Lee Lewis Jr, died in an automobile crash in the 1970s, and there were the tragic deaths of his wives Jaren and Shawn. Jerry also lost first his mother in 1971, then his father. Jerry nearly died himself in 1981 when he was hospitalized with a ruptured stomach, but he recovered against all the odds.
He has constantly had bad press over run ins with the IRS (the U.S. tax authorities) who at one point seized his cars and other assets including the Starck upright piano his parents bought him as a child. Jerry lived in Dublin, Ireland for a while in the 1990s till these U.S. tax problems were sorted out. He accidentally shot his bass player Butch Owens in the chest on one occasion, but luckily Butch survived. The much publicized pistol-waving episode outside Gracelands before Elvis died in 1977 was a misunderstanding and press hype – Jerry and Elvis were great friends and he had been invited over to Gracelands. A pistol on the dashboard of Jerry’s car had been given to him earlier that evening as a present, and when the security on the Gracelands gates saw the pistol and asked Jerry if he’d come to shoot Elvis, Jerry just joked: ‘Sure I have.’ This led to the arrest and the subsequent press stories.
The fuss over his marriage in 1958 led to him curtailing his British tour after just 3 concerts, and upon his return to the States his records were banned from the airwaves. This despite the fact that everyone married very young in the Southern States at the time, and marrying cousins was also commonplace. Elvis was dating Priscilla when she was only 14, but Colonel Tom Parker made sure this was kept from the Press. Jerry’s sister Linda Gail first married at 14 (she’s now been married eight times) and another sister, Frankie Jean, first married at age 12. If a Southern girl wasn’t married or at least had a ‘steady beau’ by 16, she’d be the gossip of the community, definitely a lesbian. This was the Bible Belt, and as soon as you were old enough to have sex, you married someone to make it legal in the eyes of God, even if you got divorced the next day. That’s the way it was back then in the South. It took Jerry Lee 10 long years to fight his way back to the top of the charts. He had no Top Twenty hits in the States from 1959 thru 1967 despite many excellent recordings. A wealth of Sun material would have been massive hit singles but for the ban on his records, and when he left Sun for Smash in 1963, ‘I’m On Fire’ should have been as big as ‘Great Balls of Fire’ all over again, but by now The Beatles and the Merseysound had made it very difficult for Americans who hadn’t had a hit for a while to make the charts again.
In the mid-1960s a one-off country album called ‘Country Songs For City Folks’ didn’t make much impression, but two songs from the album were covered with very similar arrangements by Tom Jones, who had massive hits with ‘Green Green Grass of Home’ and ‘Detroit City’. Tom freely admitted at the time he was inspired by a Jerry Lee Lewis album to record these hits. Jerry himself finally hit the US Top Ten again in 1968 with the Country number ‘Another Place Another Time’, and the hits then flowed non-stop into the 1980s when New Country started to take off and stop older more traditional Country singers having any hits, or even a recording contract in many cases. If you are not under 30 and look cute Nashville didn’t really want to know – even when he was under 30 Jerry has NEVER been ‘cute’.
Jerry’s recordings are often very personal, and even songs written and originally recorded by other people become autobiographical when Jerry records them. He inserts his name and places such as his childhood Assembly of God Church in Ferriday, Louisiana into the lyrics, and it is possible to play his recordings in a sequence which will tell his life story from his birth beyond the present day to when he passes over to the next world. Jerry has left very little out. He tells it like it is, and he sings about it in his songs.
Some of his songs are so honest it is almost embarrassing – he bares his soul in his recordings. The 1973 album ‘Sometimes A Memory Ain’t Enough’ is a very good example. In ‘Mama’s Hands’ he sings fondly of his recently departed mother, of how ‘it took the sting of Mama’s hands to teach Jerry Lee wrong from right’ and modestly at the end of the song: ‘everything Jerry is today I owe to my Mama’s hands’. There are three other songs on this album, ‘Falling To The Bottom’, ‘I Think I Need To Pray’ and ‘Keep Me From Blowing Away’, which truthfully reflect a very difficult period in Jerry’s life after the loss of his mother and the break-up of his marriage to Myra. He was at the peak of his Country career in the early 1970s, but these three songs reveal the pain and torment he was going through at this time. ‘I climbed the ladder of success which led to my destruction’ sings Jerry, ‘a good woman is what I need now so desperately’. He sings of ‘the years which just crumbled away’ and of having ‘nothing to show but lines that I know are beginning to show on my face’.
In ‘A Damn Good Country Song’ from another album he sings about drinking enough whisky ‘to lift any ship off the ground’ and taking enough pills ‘for the whole damn town’. On his third Elektra album he again sings about getting older, a recurring theme, in ‘I’d Do It All Again’. Referring to himself in the third person as a clearly aging pianist looking ‘drunk, worn and thin’ and forgetting lines to songs, yet defiantly saying he isn’t bothered about the lines on his face or the gray in his hair, he is still ‘a living legend’. ‘Change Places With Me’ on the same album tells of the ordeal of being this living legend, having to sing the same songs over and over again ‘until all the feeling’s gone’, and of the penalty of fame – having one’s private life displayed for all the world to see. All these songs, and many more, have a brutal honesty about them, which reveal the inner Jerry Lee and the trials and tribulations he has been through.
Many speak of his loneliness – songs such as ‘No-One Will Ever Know’ and ‘Ivory Tears’, and of how money can’t buy the really important things in life – love and the precious memories of his mother (‘Things That Matter Most To Me’). Jerry even sings about his own death in songs such as ‘Who’s Gonna Play This Ol’ Piano’, ‘No Headstone On My Grave’, ‘When The Grass Grows Over Me’ and ‘Vacation In Heaven’. In short, Jerry pulls no punches – he tells it like it is, warts and all. What you see is what you get. But always there is that arrogant streak shining through – the living legend who at the end of Charlie Rich’s ‘No Headstone On My Grave’ neatly twists the whole message of the song by demanding a MONUMENT!
Cousin Mickey Gilley also had a string of Country hits in this period, the early ones almost identical to Jerry’s style, with Mickey on piano and vocal. This led Jerry to constantly refer to himself on his records, not out of pure vanity, but so people hearing the record on the radio would know it was really Jerry Lee and not his cousin, they sounded so alike. Mickey later developed his own sound and continued to have massive hits, more #1s than Jerry Lee in fact. He also owned Gilley’s, the biggest honkytonk in the world in a suburb of Houston, where they filmed the John Travolta film ‘Urban Cowboy’ which arguably started the whole New Country thing and also the mechanical ‘bucking bull’ craze.. Gilley’s niteclub has since burned down. As well as a theater in Branson, Missouri, Mickey has now opened another huge niteclub in the Dallas area. Meanwhile, cousin Jimmy Swaggart was once the most popular evangelist on U.S. TV, and he has sold many gospel records. Sun had billed Jerry Lee ‘and his Pumpin’ Piano’, Jimmy’s albums were billed ‘and his Golden Gospel Piano’. Their singing styles are quite different, yet there is a similarity – the ad-libs about Jesus on Jimmy’s records, for instance. Jimmy sadly fell from favor like his cousin Jerry; in Jimmy’s case a prostitute was involved. But undoubtedly the three cousins from Ferriday, Louisiana, together with another piano-playing cousin, Sun recording artist the late Carl McVoy, and Jerry’s singing/piano playing sister Linda Gail Lewis, together make up an extremely talented musical family. Linda Gail’s two daughters, Annie and Mary Jean, are also singers, and appear on her stage shows and a new CD – they are known collectively as ‘The Lewis Three’. The CD is called ‘Perfect World’ and the harmonies are just beautiful. Mary Jean McCall now has a solo CD out, called ‘It’s About Me’. This features Mary Jean singing some beautiful ballads, and playing piano. Jerry often jokes to his musical family: ‘I got the talent, the rest of you just got the scrapings!’ Some talent, some scrapings! The whole family should be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville; they have together done more for Country/Gospel/Rock’n’Roll than a lot of other artists. Their status should be legendary, like the Carter familiy.
It is Jerry’s music and spontaneity which reveal his genius. He has recorded a phenomenal amount of material in various styles including rock’n’roll, blues, gospel, country, dixieland, soul, and pop standards. Much of the general public outside the USA have never heard any of this post-1958 material. If you ask most people in England, for example, about Jerry Lee Lewis those who have heard of him and don’t get him mixed up with comedian Jerry Lewis will probably say he only had one hit, ‘Great Balls of Fire’. A few might also be aware of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’. A tiny minority of British Country Music fans might be aware of his string of U.S. country hits spanning 4 decades from the 50s thru to the 80s.
Aside from the hit singles, the vast amount of material Jerry has had released on albums and CDs testify to his prolific recording career, first with Sun Records in Memphis, then with Mercury and its subsiduary label Smash in the 1960s and 70s. Some legendary ‘live’ albums from the mid-60s, notably ‘Greatest Live Show On Earth’ recorded in Birmingham, Alabama and ‘Live At The Star-Club Hamburg’ depict Jerry at his rockin’ best, and are the wildest albums ever recorded by anyone.
In the late 1970s Jerry moved to Elektra, then MCA where he last had a contract. Since 1984 he has not had a regular record label, but there have been various one-off sessions. The 1989 movie soundtrack to the bio-pic ‘Great Balls of Fire’ starring Dennis Quaid was a high point – Jerry sung and played on the soundtrack and the accompanying album, and bettered many of his original hits. ‘Great Balls of Fire’, for instance, has an extra, extended piano solo which builds up to a fantastic vocal climax missing from the million-seller Sun cut, which now sounds tame in comparison. In 1995 a CD called ‘Young Blood’ was released to rave reviews, but it is rumored that a dispute with the Sire record company led to it being pulled from the airwaves, and a planned follow-up CD was recorded but never released. The CD was, in the opinion of many, over-produced, and Jerry himself hated the overdubbing. This was not the way he liked to record songs. The perfect yodels on ‘Miss The Mississippi’ are just not Jerry Lee, and his usual spontaneity on most of the rock’n’roll numbers is missing. Because of modern recording methods, Jerry learnt few of the songs right thru, so couldn’t sing them on subsequent tours. He has said himself his biggest mistake was to leave Mercury Records and producer Jerry Kennedy in the late 1970s. Jerry Kennedy understood Jerry Lee’s style, and brought out his best in the Merucy recordings. Although a reunion between the two Jerrys has been rumored many times it has yet to materialize.
The secret of Jerry Lee’s genius is his amazing talent. He is a self-taught pianist, and has a very strong left-hand which lays down a strong rhythm on his uptempo numbers. He has a strong nasal voice which has changed very little over the years and is ideally suited to all the styles Jerry sings. Although Jerry has written few songs himself, he interprets other people’s songs in his own unique style. Jerry never sings any song exactly the same twice, and his ad-libs are famous and often very witty. When the spotlight kept wandering off him in a show in England he instantly changed the words to his latest #1 hit record from ‘There Must Be More To Love Than This’ to ‘There Must Be More To Lights Than This’. In Dalton, Georgia. Jerry sang ‘kiss my ass on your way down’ instead of ‘ pick me up on your way down’. He often adlibs about his many ex-wives, including his 13-year old cousin Myra. In a version of ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ recorded live at the International Hotel, Las Vegas he sings: ‘Sweet Little 16 – how about 17, 18…. ?’ going up into the mid 20s, and then brings the house down with: ‘…how about 13?’ At the Rainbow theater, London in 1977 he says that everyone can enjoy rock’n’roll whatever their age: ‘You may be 12, you may be 100- if you’re 12 come backstage.’ In yet another London show in 1983 he says how glad he is to be back in London which is like a second home to him, then puts on an emphasized hillbilly drawl as he jokes: ‘This is where I first came over and brought my 13 year old cousin, remember that?’ Whereupon he laughs out loud, proving he could now see the funny side of an episode which wrecked his career for 10 years and prevented him becoming bigger than Elvis Presley, just because he was too honest and ignorant of the cultural clash between England and the Southern States. Although Juliet was only 13 when she was with Romeo, England’s customs had now changed but those in Dixie hadn’t, and Jerry was made to pay for it. He had also been advised by attorneys that his ‘third’ marriage was not bigamous since his ‘second’ marriage was never legal, so according to Jerry’s lawyers he was a single man when he married Myra.
Jerry makes every song his own, even old standards recorded by many artists. If you remember Judy Garland singing ‘Over The Rainbow’ in the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’, or if you remember Gene Vincent’s version, just wait till you hear The Killer’s hit version from the 1980s – a totally different interpretation to anyone else’s. Jerry makes any song his very own, this is the essence of his genius. Whether he is re-interpreting Leiber and Stoller’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and making the Elvis version sound inferior, singing beautiful versions of ‘The One Rose Left In My Heart’ or ‘You Belong To Me’, or rocking up the classic country weepies ‘I’m Thowing Rice’ and ‘Tennessee Waltz’ (Caribou sessions), Jerry is always original. He has spawned many imitators from his hit-making cousin Mickey Gilley to Jason D. Williams, but there is ony one Killer – Jerry Lee Lewis, the greatest artist in popular music of the 20th and 21st centuries. His private life and that of his family may be controversial but as Jerry said himself once: ‘Just think what a dull old world it would be without a Jerry Lee Lewis in it!’
In 2003 there were big changes in Jerry’s personal life and career, and he entered the Phillips studio again to record songs for a new CD. The original title song, ‘Old Glory’, was penned by Jerry himself. Other tracks feature superstars like Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, etc. ‘duetting’ with Jerry Lee on vocals, and the CD was released on September 26th, 2006. (The title of the CD was changed several times before it was released: Old Glory/The Pilgrim/Redemption/Last Man Standing.) It is the most exciting project since the release of the ‘Young Blood’ CD in 1995. Since his divorce from his sixth wife, Jerry seems to have a new lease of life, is looking fitter, and his shows have a lot more energy. In 2004 Jerry also started to record a blues-oriented CD for release after ‘Last Man Standing’ which seems to be the final title of the celebrity guest artists/duets CD which it is hoped will at long last bring Jerry the recognition he deserves – up there with Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, etc. The only difference being, Jerry Lee is greater than any of these other ”super-stars’! In June 2006 Time-Life released a 3-CD boxset encapsulating Jerry’s recording career from his very first two recordings (never before released) from 1952, and including most of his many hits over the decades. It is entitled ‘Jerry Lee Lewis – A Half Century of Hits’.
LAST MAN STANDING
Having now got a copy of the album, I can confirm it is FANTASTIC! Probably the best studio-produced album in Jerry’s entire 50 year recording career. Up there with the 1964 ‘live’ album Star-Club Hamburg as an example of the best work Jerry’s ever done. Last Man Standing features a variety of styles from manic rock’n’roll (the guests have a job keeping up Jerry’s pace), thru great Blues, fantastic Country, even a touch of gospel/patriotism (Old Glory), an Irish song, and various other styles. Jerry’s voice is fantastic, and people can’t believe it’s someone coming up to their 70th birthday (the album was 5 years in the making). His piano playing is great as ever, and the guest super-stars, when singing, never outshine Jerry Lee.
It is impossible to single out a favorite track, they are all winners. Just listen to Rod Stewart interplay with Jerry on What’s Made Milwaukee Famous, or the great Willie Nelson and Jerry Lee on A Couple More Years. Hear The Possum and The Killer thoroughly enjoying themselves on Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age, John Fogerty and Jimmy Page trying to keep up with Jerry’s frantic pace on Travelin’ Band and Rock’n’Roll (originally recorded by their bands Creedance Clearwater Revival and Led Zeppelin). Honky TonkWoman is also taken at a frantic pace by Jerry and Kid Rock. 21 stunning tracks, each one deserves to be a #1 single. You won’t hear another album as good as this in the 21st Century, that’s for sure, unless it’s Jerry’s next album!!!!
To order Last Man Standing, Jerry’s latest album with guest stars, go to the following page on Amazon.uk, or to Amazon’s site in your own country. Full track listing given on this page.
JERRY’S 71st BIRTHDAY WAS ON SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2006! ‘LAST MAN STANDING’ WAS RELEASED IN USA A FEW DAYS EARLIER AND IS GOT RAVE REVIEWS EVERYWHERE. HE PROMOTED THE ALBUM IN A NEW YORK CITY RECORD SHOP AND PUT ON HIS MOST DYNAMIC PERFORMANCE IN YEARS, PLAYING A RED PIANO!
JERRY APPEARED ON ALL THE TOP U.S. CHAT SHOWS PROMOTING THE ALBUM, WHICH HAS WON HIM HIS FIRST GOLD DISK OF THE 21st CENTURY HAVING SOLD OVER HALF A MILLION COPIES. THE CD IS JERRY’S BIGGEST SELLING ALBUM OF ALL TIME AND MADE THE POP, COUNTRY, ROCK AND INDIE CHARTS (#1 ON THE LATTER).
A DVD, ‘LAST MAN STANDING, LIVE’, USING THE SAME FORMAT BUT WITH SOME DIFFERENT SONGS AND GUEST ARTISTS, WAS RELEASED IN MARCH 2007. MUCH OF THIS CONCERT MATERIAL WAS BROADCAST ON U.S. PBS (Public Broadcasting) STATIONS DURING MARCH 2007. AS A RESULT OF THE EXCELLENCE OF THE ALBUM AND DVD, AND WITH ALL THE PROMOTION, JERRY HAS MADE A HUGE COMEBACK IN ALMOST EVERY EUROPEAN AND ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRY EXCEPT UK, WHERE THE CD AND DVD WAS ALMOST TOTALLY IGNORED, AND NOT PROMOTED AT ALL. THEY ARE STILL TOTALLY UNAVAILABLE IN MOST UK RECORD OUTLETS, AND ARE ONLY STOCKED/DISPLAYED IN MAJOR RECORD STORES IN THEIR ‘ROCK’N’ROLL’ OR ‘ROOTS MUSIC’ SECTIONS. THE MAJORITY OF UK CITIZENS ARE NOT AWARE OF THESE HISTORIC RELEASES – DEFINITELY AMONGST THE GREATEST RECORDING/VIDEO PERFORMANCES OF ALL TIME!
Just as some people were ready to write off Jerry Lee as a spent force, he has reclaimed control of his life and career. As he said on one of his records, ‘The Killer ain’t thru yet’. You bet! In 2006 he celebrated his 50th year in the recording business, with no signs of retirement. In fact he is in the middle of a big come-back. Already his recording career spans 6 decades, two centuries and two millennia – far longer than either The Beatles or Elvis Presley. As he says in ‘Rockin’ My Life Away’ – ‘My name is Jerry Lee Lewis and I’m darn sure here to stay!’
In the week ending October 10th, 2007 Jerry was the first living artist to be honored by six days of events dedicated to him entitled: ‘The Life and Music of Jerry Lee Lewis’, which included lectures, DVDs, discussions interviews, film clips and a tribute concert. This was organized by the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Case Western Reserve University. At the tribute concert on October 10th Kris Kristifferson presented Jerry with the American Music Masters Award, and Jerry Lee ended his own tribute concert by sitting down at the piano and performing the closing number – ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. There were few dry eyes in the house apparently.
A lot of DVDs have come out in 2007/2008 featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, including ‘Last Man Standing “Live”‘, ‘Killer Piano’, ‘Falsifyin” and ‘The Jerry Lee Lewis Chronicles’. ‘Killer Piano’, in which Jerry is interviewed by his sister Linda Gail Lewis and demonstrates his keyboard technique, won a ‘Best in Show’ NAMM Trendsetter Award 2008. So ‘The Killer’ is still setting trends well into the 21st century. And along with Little Richard and Fats Domino, Lewis performed at an event connected to the 2008 Grammy Awards.
On July 4th, 2008 Jerry Lee had the honor of performing 3 songs in front of the Capitol for the official Independence Day celebrations. Thousands went mad as a rejuvenated Killer, looking 10 years younger than of late, stormed thru Roll Over Beethoven, Whole Lotta Shakin’ and Great Balls of Fire. During the last number balls of fire exploded over Washington DC, in the official firework display for July 4th.
A newly recorded CD and DVD are due out later in 2009 or early 2010.
On April 27th, 2009 Jerry Lee Lewis gave a short speech in the Tennessee House of Representatives thanking them for naming a street after him, Jerry Lee Lewis Highway.
A new single, Mean Old Man, from the upcoming CD was released in August 2009 for download from ITunes or Amazon. It can also be heard on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e22vFxBcEvI
A new album, in standard and deluxe version (10/18 tracks, also some editions with bonus tracks) was released in September 2010 and shot into Billboard’s 200 album chart at #30, hitting #10 spot in the Rock albums category and #11 in the Tastemakers’ chart. This duets album, like Last Man Standing, was promoted by Jerry on several U.S. TV shows.
2014 and Jerry Lee had yet another new CD which got good reviews. ‘Rock’n’Roll Time’. Guest artists on it again, but Jerry Lee predominates.
‘There’s only ever been four stylists in popular music – Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis’ (Jerry Lee Lewis quote).
‘My talent is proving to be what it is, the greatest talent in the field of music that I’m in… Now I don’t compare myself with other talents like Beethoven…. he was a stylist before my time.’ (Jerry Lee Lewis – BBC’s ’24 Hours’, 1972, anchor man’s quote after this clip was shown: ‘So you see what Beethoven missed!’)
LINKS TO THE WEBSITES OF THE MOST TALENTED FAMILY ON THE PLANET:
Official Jerry Lee Lewis website: http://www.jerryleelewis.com/
Jerry Lee Lewis Top Free Forum: http://www.topfreeforum.com/jerryleelewis/index.php?mforum=jerryleelewis
Jerry Lee Lewis IFC Yahoo group: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/JerryLeeLewisIFC/
Fireball Mail, International JLL Fan Club magazine website: http://www.fireballmailonline.com/
Mickey Gilley website: http://www.gilleys.com/
Linda Gail Lewis/Lewis 3 websites: http://www.lindagaillewis.net/ and www.lindagaillewis.com
Mary Jean McCall (Linda’s daughter, Jerry’s niece) website: http://www.maryjeanworld.com/
Jimmy Swaggart website: http://www.jsm.org/
Jerry lee is a genius on the piano and linda play well indeed…but as far as the Graceland incident…He wasn’t invited there, this is according to some of the ‘Memphis mafia’ who surrounded Elvis….He supposedly was drunk and had that gun in plain sight and tried to get into the gates…had he been invited there would have been no problem gaining entrance to graceland.June 14th, 2013 at 1:48 am
I quoted Jerry Lee’s version of this incident. He was certainly drunk, and the pistol was on the dashboard, and he crashed into the gates. That’s all anybody can know for certain. What prompted him to drive to Graceland cannot be known for certain by anyone except Jerry Lee or Elvis in spirit, if he did invite him. I don’t see why the Memphis Mafia would know everything, such as every phone call Elvis made in private. If they did, I pity the poor guy.June 14th, 2013 at 2:03 am
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