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Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: September 29, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Ferriday, Louisiana, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Few figures in popular culture could claim the extraordinary list of descriptive phrases that have been attributed to Jerry Lee Lewis - genius, rocker, lunatic, bigamist, survivor - but no matter which label applied, the undeniable fact remained that Jerry Lee Lewis was above all else a pioneer of rock and roll. Lewis was a member of the Sun Records stable, which at one time included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and many others who helped to craft rock and roll into an American art form. Lewis' contribution, through incendiary tracks like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," was to preserve and even enhance the danger, the sex and the joy of the music through his ferocious vocals and piano playing. For a brief, conservative period, no performer could terrify and enthrall an audience at the same time like Lewis. As history often demonstrated, such a volatile personality had to reach a breaking point, and Lewis's came in 1958 with the announcement that he had married his 13-year-old cousin. Decades in the wilderness followed, with occasional returns to his previous brilliance. Surprisingly, Lewis was the last of the major Sun players to survive into the...

Few figures in popular culture could claim the extraordinary list of descriptive phrases that have been attributed to Jerry Lee Lewis - genius, rocker, lunatic, bigamist, survivor - but no matter which label applied, the undeniable fact remained that Jerry Lee Lewis was above all else a pioneer of rock and roll. Lewis was a member of the Sun Records stable, which at one time included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and many others who helped to craft rock and roll into an American art form. Lewis' contribution, through incendiary tracks like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," was to preserve and even enhance the danger, the sex and the joy of the music through his ferocious vocals and piano playing. For a brief, conservative period, no performer could terrify and enthrall an audience at the same time like Lewis. As history often demonstrated, such a volatile personality had to reach a breaking point, and Lewis's came in 1958 with the announcement that he had married his 13-year-old cousin. Decades in the wilderness followed, with occasional returns to his previous brilliance. Surprisingly, Lewis was the last of the major Sun players to survive into the 21st century, where his presence - gnarled but still ornery - served as a reminder that while the excesses of fame had their downside, the potency of great rock and roll was one of the surest tickets to immortality.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll! (1987) Himself
2.
 American Hot Wax (1978) Himself
4.
 Keep on Rockin' (1972)
5.
 High School Confidential! (1958) Himself
6.
 Jamboree! (1957)
8.
 Jimmy Swaggart: Fire and Brimstone (2001) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Learned to play the piano at the age of nine
1949:
Made his performance debut at a Ford dealership in Ferriday, LA
1956:
Recorded four demos for Sun Studios, including "Crazy Arms" and "End of the Road"
1956:
Backed Carl Perkins on a run of recordings that were visited by labelmates Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley; producer Sam Phillips kept the tape rolling on the impromptu jam session, later dubbed "The Million Dollar Quartet"
1957:
Recorded his first hit, a cover of "Whole Lotta Shakin¿ Goin¿ On"
1957:
Released breakthrough single "Great Balls of Fire"
1957:
Took a career misstep after secretly marrying Myra Gale Brown, his 13-year-old first cousin once removed who was ten years his junior; scandal broke the following year
1957:
Made his "American Bandstand" (ABC) debut
1958:
Performed the title song to the crime drama "High School Confidential"; appeared in film
1961:
Returned to the charts with a cover of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say"
1964:
Released the live albums <i>Live at the Star Club, Hamburg</i> and <i>The Greatest Live Show on Earth</i>
1969:
Turned to the country music genre and released the hit "To Make Love Sweeter for You"
1972:
Recorded a cover of Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace," which went to No. 1 on the Hot Country SIngles chart and landed in the top 50 on the U.S. pop charts
1986:
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Lewis was an inaugural inductee along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles
1986:
Recorded <i>Class of '55</i> along with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins; album considered a follow-up to "The Million Dollar Quartet" session
1989:
Portrayed by Dennis Quaid in the biographical drama "Great Balls of Fire!"; Lewis re-recorded his classic hits for the film's soundtrack
2005:
Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
2006:
Released the album <i>Last Man Standing</i>; featured duets with Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, and Willie Nelson, among others
2009:
Opened the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY
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