With the death of Jerry Lee Lewis, there are no members left of the early Rock ‘n’ Roll. American music will never see another like him.
His nickname is The Killer. First his orchestra appeared on the stage; two guitars, a bass and drums. After a few-song warm-up tour, Dad came to the stage with the help of two people who took his arm, sat down at his piano without speaking and started playing with “Roll Over Beethoven”. After completing a repertoire of approximately 45 minutes, he left the stage without saying a word, accompanied by the same people, and the ensemble ended the concert by playing a few songs. The tickets were quite expensive for its time, but the place, which was organized according to the seating system, was filled with people who wanted to be a “Rock’n Roll Pilgrim” after seeing Jerry Lee Lewis. The man who made countless pilgrims died on October 28, 2022.
But don’t let people be misled by the pilgrimage; You’ll rarely come across a celebrity who’s more hesitant to judge ethically than JLL. Few more egotistical and talented names had come into the world than him, but outside of the televote media, this egocentric tough guy has been prey to a series of biographies, documentaries, and feature-length Hollywood films. Singing at the piano, underlining sexuality with an uncontrolled anger, this tall Southerner became every parent’s nightmare when he took the stage with the song “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” in 1957. The undeniable truth was this: he was the first big wild man in rock ‘n’ roll music.
He was born in 1935 in Louisiana. The family was poor, but they had enough money to buy a second-hand piano. The 10-year-old JLL was an extraordinary talent; his left hand played a solid boogie while his right hand worked like lace on melody. He was making money by walking around the street with a piano placed in the back of a truck. He eventually escaped from the religious school his parents sent him to, selling his soul to the devil at the age of 21 and knocking on the door of record companies.
After the first single “Crazy Arms” was released, it made good money. In fact, stingy Sam Records boss Sam Phillips first spent a lot of money on JLL’s next single, hitting number one on the R&B charts with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’On,” hitting vol. JLL couldn’t dance on stage while strumming a guitar like Carl Perkins, but his extraordinary appearance became a legend with stage shows, playing the piano with his feet, and pouring whiskey in his hand and setting his piano on fire. It ignores musical boundaries; whatever he stole, he turned it into his own property. “If I could play the piano like him, I would stop singing,” Elvis said.
The next “Great Balls of Fire” was a great production even though it was just piano and drums. This piece took JLL to the top, but on the other hand, it knitted its nets. JLL had secretly married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown, the daughter of his bassist uncle.
The press began to crucify him. Concerts have been cancelled. His recordings were banned by radio stations. However, he continued his work resolutely, not bowing his head. It took him almost 10 years to achieve this, but eventually, he made records with a new label, Smash Records, in the late sixties and seventies…
His private life was falling apart as his career took off again. He remarried and divorced over the next 15 years; the deaths of his parents and eldest son drove him to drugs. In the mid-eighties there was another leap forward in his career. He received an invitation for the soundtrack of the film about his life. Years later, he released the albums “Last Man Standing” and “Mean Old Man”, in which he performed duets with numerous giants. In 2014, his autobiography by Rick Bragg was published.
He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 but was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness. He died two weeks later at the age of 87. Just like Little Richard, he couldn’t complete the 88th key of the piano. With his death, no members remained of the early Rock’n Roll. American music will never see another like him.