Jerry Lee Lewis
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Jerry Lee Lewis

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The best kept secret in music


"Jerry Lee Lewis doing a whole lotta shakin'"

Jerry Lee Lewis doing a whole lotta shakin'
Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:13 PM EST

Jerry Lee Lewis , House of Blues, Anaheim)

By Darryl Morden

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Moseying out onstage Wednesday at Downtown Disney's House of Blues in Anaheim, Jerry Lee Lewis looked like, well, a slow-moving senior citizen. Then he took a seat behind the piano, his fingertips ran over the keys and he took charge with a singing voice that sounded at least a couple decades younger. The Killer had arrived.

The 71-year-old rock 'n' roll legend is enjoying a higher profile again thanks to his first album in more than a decade. On "Last Man Standing" (Artists First), he duets with such younger folks as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty, as well as peers including B.B. King, Willie Nelson and George Jones.

After a warm-up run of oldies in old-fashioned showbiz style from his backing group -- which included his longtime bandleader, singer-guitarist Ken Lovelace, and the co-producer of "Last Man Standing," guitarist Jimmy Ripp -- Lewis made his entrance and launched into a rousing version of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven."

Appearing less frail and more robust than a few years back, his voice resonated with full-bodied swagger, and his hands were all over those 88s. Dressed in black, the jovial Lewis halted the proceedings when there was a sound problem and even joked about it, along with the foibles of age.

The 50-minute show touched on the new album just a bit, including the waltzing weary wisdom of "Couple More Years," the saloon blues of "Trouble in Mind" and another Berry tune, "Sweet Little Sixteen."

Several Killer classics such as "Breathless" and "High School Confidential" were missing in action as he instead took some country and slow-blues routes. But he also banged out swinging boogie-woogie in numbers like "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee."

The final one-two punch of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and "Great Balls of Fire" found Lewis and the band cutting loose, and he even kicked over the piano bench at the end of the set, just like the old days. Earlier in the show, he had rolled out a lively rendition of Chuck Willis' "(I Don't Want To) Hang Up My Rock 'n' Roll Shoes," and one couldn't help but hope he doesn't even consider it, even in these sunset years.

- Hollywood Reporter

"Best Of The Year"

Lewis still rockin’ There’s a thriller from the killer. After an extended absence from the studio, Jerry Lee Lewis has released a set that should have fans dancing in the street. And not just his own fans. The album is Last Man Standing and features Lewis pounding the keyboard like a man possessed and belting out duets with an all-star roster that includes blues legends B.
B. King and Buddy Guy, country music icons Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and George Jones, and a rock ’n’ roll swat team comprised of Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, Robbie Robertson and John Fogerty. On deck as well are Kid Rock, Eagle Don Henley and Delaney Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie fame. As the lineup would suggest, this set embraces several different genres of music, the blues, full throttle rock ’n’ roll, honky tonk, gospel-influenced country, rhythm and blues and pop. The arrangements were tailored for Lewis and his still impressive piano skills, but his guests get plenty of opportunity to shine, whether vocally in the case of artists like Young and Jones, or instrumentally, in the case of King, Page and Clapton. Several of the tracks here are worth their weight in gold. Included in that number is the collaboration between Lewis and Clapton on Trouble In Mind on which Clapton is borderline brilliant. Very close behind is his pairing with Springsteen for a cover of Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac. High on my list as well is Lewis’s duet with Young on You Don’t Have To Go, his bash at That Kind of Fool with Keith Richards and a heartfelt run at Kristofferson’s The Pilgrim with Kristofferson on deck. This set, the title of which is inspired by the fact Lewis is the only one of the big four Sun Records rock ’n’ roll stars still alive — Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins were the others — will most certainly make my year-end best list - Charlottetown Guardian

"All Killer, No Filler"

Duet albums are generally dodgy affairs, allowing fading performers to enjoy one last chart entry by riding the coattails of their now-more-famous duet partners. Frank Sinatra started the trend and it's continued with uneven releases by artists like Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett and Ray Charles while adding little to re-workings of past hits.

In what would appear to be just another entry into the genre, Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing smashes expectations sideways, destroying any previous assumptions about duet albums.

The guests provide the hits and then get out of the way. Jimmy Page plays some tasteful guitar on Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" but it's a Jerry Lee track all the way.

Kid Rock and Rod Stewart are slow to realize this and their tracks are among the weakest here, while the songs with fellow old-timers George Jones and Willie Nelson are great fun. Jerry Lee Lewis' singing and piano playing display few indications of his age, and the production is impeccable. Fifty years after he first walked into Sun Records, the Killer has lost none of his fire. - Calgary Gauntlet

"Last Man Standing review"

Jerry Lee Lewis proves he's still got killer instincts on Last Man Standing, an all-star affair that features 22 guests, 21 spirited duets and one massive talent at the centre of it all.

Last Man Standing could have been a formulaic duets cash-grab. That possibility is out the window within seconds as Jimmy Page riffs maniacally on the opening cut, a piano-based version of Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll. It's the first of many thrilling revelations. Lewis, 71, is a ball of bluesy fury on his first album since 1996. He's well-supported by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and George Jones, among others.
- Victoria Times Colonist

"Nobody Stops The Killer"

Superstar duets with aging legends have become the modern-day version of the celebrity roast, a way to acknowledge someone's influence, have some fun and maybe even sell a few records.

Alas, most of them just aren't all that good. But trust Jerry Lee Lewis to be the one to do it right. There are some clunkers on Last Man Standing (Don Henley on a Jerry Lee Lewis album?), but all in all it's pretty rockin', proof that Jerry Lee Lewis at 71 is still a very, very wild man.

The album was recorded over the last five years, financed by Hollywood producer Steve Bing (a suitable person to finance a Jerry Lee Lewis record -- Bing is the cad who refused to acknowledge he was the father of Elizabeth Hurley's love child, until a DNA test proved otherwise). Basically guitar player Jimmy Rip would phone up famous people and they'd hook up with Jerry Lee in Memphis and lay down a track.

Over time, 21 duets were recorded. The tracks that work best are when the celebrity partner just gets out of the way and lets Jerry Lee go. He remakes Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll in his own image, so that it sounds like his song, not his celebrity partner Jimmy Page's. The same could be said of his rollicking take of Bruce Springsteen's Pink Cadillac, where the Boss chips in guitar and backing vocals, and even the blazing version of the Beatles' I Saw Her Standing There, where Little Richard supplies the whoops that Paul McCartney originally did.

It's not all wild. There's a lovely ballad with Willie Nelson, Couple More Years, and an intriguing whorehouse piano version of the Hank Williams classic Lost Highway. It starts off great, but is slowed somewhat by duet partner Delaney Bramlett, who really isn't in the same league as Jerry Lee Lewis, talent-wise. The same could be said of Kid Rock, who almost wrecks a cool version of Honky Tonk Woman. But in the end no one can stop the force of Jerry Lee Lewis. Once he gets warmed up and starts off on one of his astonishing runs on the piano, he is a killer. - Vancouver Sun

"Last Man Standing review"

When Jerry Lee Lewis last played the Docks, he looked like a ghost, so what a shock it is to hear him belting out tunes with gusto on this celebrity duets album. The Killer actually sounds much more vital on Last Man Standing than many of his younger guest stars – in fact, Neil Young, Keith Richards and Rod Stewart could be confused for Jerry Lee's dad. The marquee stars (Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Don Henley, Kris Kristofferson, John Fogerty Eric Clapton, etc) keep their huge egos in check and don't try to steal the spotlight from the still wiry piano pounder, so at least Last Man Standing maintains the feel of a Jerry Lee Lewis album. Disaster averted.
- Now Magazine

"Last Man Standing review"

The mantra "All Killer, no filler" rarely rang truer than on the old rascal's new duets album, which benefits from a tough-ass mix that places his still-wonderful piano right in your face - without skimping on the rhythm section. Best of all, these loose, playful, exchanges with an A-list of veterans, including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and BB King remind us about the "roll" in rock 'n' roll. While it's hard to select highlights among the 21 combustible barrelhouse boogie-woogie sizzlers here, the Killer's wonderful trade-offs with Keith Richards and Rod Stewart - who rediscovers the soul he left behind ages ago - would certainly make the cut. And make no mistake: every guest performs like he knows whose album this is. 4/5 - Montreal Gazette

"Last Man Standing review"

Jerry Lee Lewis is one proud old man, so it’s reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t bother trying to make a comeback record at 71 unless he was pretty sure that he still had the goods—and he does. But looking at the guest list for Last Man Standing, it’s also reasonable to assume that on at least some level it’s going to be a celebrity cluster-fuck—and it is.

The disc opens with the one-two-three punch of guest shots from Jimmy Page, B.B. King, and Bruce Springsteen. The former Led Zeppelin alchemist sounds almost surreally intense on “Rock and Roll”, which might have been written for this occasion; both King and Lewis sound half their age on “Before the Night Is Over”; and Springsteen is clearly having a hell of a time as he rides shotgun on his own “Pink Cadillac”.

Otherwise, it’s Lewis’s piano that’s the real star here, even more than his leathery singing and bad-ass demeanour. On several numbers—including the aforementioned “Rock and Roll”—he proves that he can still deliver the high-octane glissandos that used to provoke rioting in his 1950s heyday: the notes fly up and out of the mix with such presence you’ll feel like giving the Killer a standing O in your own front room.
- Georgia Straight

"Last Man Standing gets 5/5!"

The title of The Killer's first album in over a decade refers to the legendary "Million Dollar Photo" of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Lewis singing together in Sun Studios in Memphis, and how today Lewis is the last man standing. Fittingly, this is the highest charting album of Lewis's career, who ends his self-imposed exile by performing duets with such contemporaries as B.B. King, George Jones, Little Richard and Willie Nelson, and then does another series of duets with "the kids" - notably Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, John Fogerty (a terrific rendition of Travelin' Band) and Jimmy Page. And there are many more great performers rendering definitive new boogie-woogie versions of 21 classic rock, blues and country songs. All killer, no filler. - Ottawa Xpress/Hour Magazine


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


Feeling a bit camera shy


“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