Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis

BandRock

Mr. Lewis, who turns 71 this year, is gearing up to release “Last Man Standing," his first studio album in more than a decade. The album is packed with rock-star guests — Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton — and Mr. Lewis easily dominates them all.

Biography

“I’m not quite as young as I used to be,” Mr. Lewis said, “But I can still play pretty good.”
Mr. Lewis, who turns 71 this year, is gearing up to release “Last Man Standing” (Out November 7, 2006 on KOCH Entertainment), his first studio album in more than a decade. The album is packed with rock-star guests — Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton — and Mr. Lewis easily dominates them all. Mr. Lewis is recording a PBS special with guests including Don Henley and Kid Rock, and he’s also one of the stars at the Farm Aid concert in Camden, N.J.
People who know Mr. Lewis well are unanimous about him. “He’s a force of nature,” said Jimmy Rip, who produced the album. Mr. Lewis’s daughter Phoebe, who is now his manager, said, “He’s got his way of doing things, and that’s all there is to that.” Hutch Hutchinson, who first joined Mr. Lewis’s band in 1961, said: “Jerry Lee won’t be tamed. He doesn’t answer to anybody, never has. He’ll pull no punches on you. He’ll just tell you what he thinks. And he don’t care if you’ve got 900 trillion dollars, or you ain’t got 10 cents.”
Mr. Lewis still has the wavy hair and familiar profile of the piano pounder who turned up at Sun Studios in Memphis in 1956 to whoop, snarl and yodel through songs that became cornerstones of rock ’n’ roll. He went on to a career as a country hit maker in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but eventually grew disenchanted with a record business that wanted to keep him in the country category.
Mr. Lewis has been through scandal and sorrow. He married his 13-year-old second cousin, Myra, in 1957 — a choice that derailed his career for a decade — and has had two wives die
young, shot a band member in the chest and lost two children in accidents. He has wrecked cars, drunk hard and showed up at the gates of Graceland waving a gun. Last year he divorced his sixth wife. Now he lives in Nesbit, Miss., eight miles from Memphis, sharing a house with Phoebe, and they have dinner regularly with Myra, Phoebe’s mother. He calls other people “Killer” when he’s feeling jovial.
Mr. Lewis warms when he speaks about growing up in Ferriday, La., and hearing the music that he melded into rock ’n’ roll. He took a few piano lessons, but he got his education by sneaking into “Haney’s Big House,” a club owned by his uncle, Lee Calhoun.
In the era of segregation it was an African-American club for blues and rhythm-and-blues, where musicians like B. B. King would perform. “They never knew I slipped in there and sat under the table and listened to them play,” Mr. Lewis said. “Haney would catch me in there, take me by the nape of the neck and put me out. He said, ‘Boy, your mama would kill me and your uncle would sure kill me if he found out you were here.’ He said ‘Don’t come back now, Jerry Lee.’ And I would be back there in 30 minutes. I felt like I was crossing a line, I shouldn’t be going there, but nothing could stop me from going unless it would be God.”
“My mama wondered, ‘Where you learning them songs at?’ ”he added.“ ‘Where’d you learn that song, boy?’ I can hear her now.”
He was sent to study at the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Tex., where his music stirred up its first ruckus. “I didn’t graduate,” he said. “I was kind of quit-uated. I was asked to leave for playing ‘My God Is Real’ boogie-woogie style, rock ’n’ roll style. I figured that’s the way it needed to be played.
“The boy that wanted to sing it, poor old boy, he wanted to sing it real slow and draggy,” Mr. Lewis continued. “I said: ‘Son, you want this song to go over? Or do you want it to be real draggy and drug out?’ He wanted it to go over, and I said, ‘Well, do it this way.’ Doomba, doomba, doomba, doomba, and it went, man. It went over. They didn’t kick him out of Bible school, but they wanted to kick me out. But every kid in the Bible school said, ‘If you kick Jerry Lee Lewis out of this school, then I’m going too.’ The dean came over and said, ‘You see that? You have ruined a great school.’ I said, ‘I haven’t ruined anything. Look, let me just take a couple of weeks off, to cool things off, and I’ll be back.’ And he said, ‘That’s a good idea.’ I didn’t go back.”
At Sun, he would meld his boogie-woogie piano with a voice steeped in country yodeling and gospel flamboyance to make songs like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” which many radio stations initially banned. “It was just another song to me,” he said. “I never noticed that it had an effect on anybody that bad. The girls went a little berserk, but that’s girls for you.”
Fifty years after his first Sun singles, Mr. Lewis sounds more weathered but no less scrappy on “Last Man Standing.” He was persuaded to make it by the album’s producers, Mr. Rip and by Steve Bing, the film producer and owner of Shangri-La Entertainment, who financed the recording. Being lifelong fans of Mr. Lewis’s music, they coaxed him back into the recording studio, first to record songs for an unreleased movie, “Why Men Shouldn’t Marry,” an

Discography

Year Title Chart Positions
US Hot 100 US Country R&B UK Pop
1957 "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" #1 #1 #1 #8
1957 "Great Balls of Fire" #1 #1 #3 #1
1957 "You Win Again" #21 #2 #3 -
1958 "Breathless" #7 #4 #3 #8
1958 "Down The Line" #51 - - -
1958 "High School Confidential" #20 #9 #5 #12
1958 "Fools Like Me" - #9 - -
1958 "Break Up" #52 #19 - -
1958 "I'll Make It All Up To You" - #19 - -
1959 "Lovin' Up A Storm" #81 - - #28
1959 "Let's Talk About Us" #76 - - -
1960 "Baby Baby Bye Bye" - - - #47
1961 "What'd I Say" #25 #27 #26 #10
1961 "Cold Cold Heart" - #22 - -
1961 "Save The Last Dance For Me" - #26 - -
1962 "Sweet Little 16" #95 - - #38
1962 "How's My Ex Treating You?" - #98 - -
1963 "Good Golly Miss Molly" - - - #31
1964 "I'm On Fire" #98 - - -
1964 "Hi Heel Sneakers" #91 - - -
1968 "Another Place, Another Time" #97 #2 - -
1968 "What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)" #94 #1 - -
1968 "She Still Comes Around (To Love What's Left of Me)" - #1 - -
1968 "To Make Love Sweeter For You" - #1 - -
1969 "Don't Let Me Cross Over" (with Linda Gail Lewis) - #9 - -
1969 "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)" - #1 - -
1969 "Invitation To Your Party" - #4 - -
1969 "She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye" - #2 - -
1969 "One Minute Past Eternity" - #2 - -
1970 "Roll Over Beethoven" (with Linda Gail Lewis) - #8 - -
1970 "Once More With Feeling" - #1 - -
1970 "I Can't Seem To Say Goodbye" - #6 - -
1970 "There Must Be More To Love Than This" - #1 - -
1970 "Waiting For A Train" - #7 - -
1971 "In Loving Memories" - #48 - -
1971 "Touching Home" #110 #3 - -
1971 "Love On Broadway" - #30 - -
1971 "When He Walks On You" - #10 - -
1971 "Me and Bobby McGee" #40 #1 - -
1971 "Would You Take Another Chance On Me" - #1 - -
1972 "Chantilly Lace" #43 #1 - #33
1972 "Think About It Darlin'" - #1 - -
1972 "Lonely Weekends" - #10 - -
1972 "I'm Walking" #95 - - -
1972 "Whose Gonna Play This Ol' Piano?" - #14 - -
1973 "No More Hanging On" - #19 - -
1973 "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" #41 #20 - -
1973 "No Headstone On My Grave" #104 #60 - -
1973 "Sometimes A Memory Ain't Enough" - #6 - -
1974 "I'm Left You're Right She's Gone" - #21 - -
1974 "Tell Tale Signs" - #18 - -
1974 "He Can't Fill My Shoes" - #8 - -
1975 "I Can Still Hear The Music In The Restroom" - #13 - -
1975 "Boogie Woogie Country Man" - #24 - -
1976 "Let's Put It Back Together Again" - #6 - -
1976 "The Closest Thing To You" - #27 - -
1977 "Middle Age Crazy" - #4 - -
1978 "Come On In" - #10 - -
1978 "I'll Find It Where I Can" - #10 - -
1979 "Rockin' My Life Away" #101 #18 - -
1979 "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again" - #18 - -
1979 "Who Will The Next Fool Be?" - #20 - -
1980 "When Two Worlds Collide" - #11 - -
1980 "Honky Tonk Stuff" - #28 - -
1980 "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - #10 - -
1981 "Thirty Nine And Holding" - #4 - -
1982 "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" - #43 - -
1982 "I'd Do It All Again" - #52 - -
1982 "My Fingers Do The Talking' - #44 - -
1983 "Come As You Were" - #66 - -
1983 "Why You Been Gone So Long?" - #65 - -
1986 "Sixteen Candles" - #61 - -

[edit] Hit albums
Year Title Chart Positions
UK Chart US Chart
1962 "Jerry Lee Lewis Vol. 2/Jerry Lee's Greatest" #14
[6 wks]
-
1964 "Golden Hits Of Jerry Lee Lewis" - #40
[8 wks]

1964 "The Greatest Live Show On Earth" - #32
[17 wks]

1965 "The Return Of Rock" - #64
[5 wks]

1965 "Country Songs For City Folks"/"All Country" - #39 Country
1966 "Memphis Beat" - #145
[3 wks]

1968 "Another Place, Another Time" - #160 #2 Country
[12 wks]

1969 "She Still Comes Around" - #9 Country
1969 "Sings The Country Music Hall Of Fame Hits, Vol.1" - #127 #1 Country
[10 wks]

1969 "Sings The Country Music Hall Of Fame Hits, Vol.2" - #124 #5 Country
[10 wks]

1969 Together (duets with Linda Gail Lewis) - #8 Country
1969 "Original Golden Hits, Vol.1" - #119
[4 wks]

1969 "Original Golden Hits, Vol.2" - #122
[5 wks]

1970 "She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye" - #186 #9 Country
[2 wks]

1970 "Best Of" - #114 #8 Country
[14 wks]

1970 "Live At The International, Las Vegas" - #149 #5 Country
[6 wks]

1971 "In Loving Memories" - #18 Country
1971 "There Must Be More To Love Than This" - #190 #8 Country
[6 wks]

1971 "Touching Home" - #152 #10 Country
[3 wks]

1971 "Would You Take Another Chance On Me" - #115 #3 Country
[12 wks]

1972 "The Killer Rocks On" - #105 #4 Country
[12 wks]

1972 "Who's Gonna Play This Old Piano?" - #3 Country
1973 "The Session" - #37 #4 Country
[19 wks]

1973 "Sometimes A Memory Ain't Enough" - #6 Country
1973 "Southern Roots" - #6 Country
1974 "I-40 Country" - #25 Country
1975 "Boogie Woogie Country Man" - #16 Country
1975 "Odd Man In" - #33 Country
1976 "Country Class" - #18 Country
1977 "Country Memories" - #21 Country
1978 "Best of/Vol. 2" - #23 Co