Jerry Lee Lewis

From ArticleWorld

Jerry Lee Lewis is a pianist, songwriter, and rock and roll singer. He was placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and was very influential in the early roack and roll movement.

Early Life & Career

Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana on September 29, 1935. Lewis showed great potential on the piano and was somewhat of a child prodigy. A distant cousin introduced him to the boogie-woogie styles that he loved listening to. Lewis learned to combine boogie with country and gospel to develop his own unique style. By the time he was 14, his family thought he was as good as he was ever going to get. He got his musical background from the church and attended the Southwestern Bible Institute in Texas but was expelled for misconduct, some of which included playing hymns ‘rock and roll style’ in church.

Lewis released his first record in 1954 and joined Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash at Sun Records. His first few records were pure rock: "Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On" and then his biggest hit, "Great Balls of Fire." Lewis was a born entertainer, he would kick the piano bench out of the way to play standing up.


Lewis led a very disturbed, personal life behind public eyes until reporters learned about his 23 year old wife, Myra Gale Brown, who was also his 13 year old second cousin. Lewis didn’t find this odd, because in the South, marrying distant cousins was accepted at that time. The scandal caused the British tour to be canceled shortly after it began.

The huge scandal followed him back to America and nearly ended his music career. He made a small comeback in Europe and the UK, but none whatsoever in America. He began focusing on country music in the late 1960’s and had several No.1 hits such as "Chantilly Lace"

Drugs & Tragedy

Lewis fostered many drug and alcohol problems after his divorce in 1970, and on top of that, his 19 year old son was killed in a traffic accident. His younger son had drowned previously as well. He was hospitalized and nearly died from a bleeding ulcer and following his recovery his fourth wife drowned as well. About a year later his fifth wife died due to a methadone overdose. Lewis was getting deeper and deeper into drugs and finally checked into the Betty Ford Clinic.

Even more tragedy would befall Lewis and at a birthday celebration he playfully pointed a gun at Butch Owens, his bass player, and, thinking it wasn’t loaded, pulled the trigger. He shot him in the chest, but he miraculously survived the incident.