Who was Jerry Lee Lewis?
Jerry Lee Lewis (September 29, 1935 – October 28, 2022) was a singer, songwriter, and pianist from the United States.
He has been dubbed “rock n’ roll’s first great wild man” and “one of the twentieth century’s most influential pianists.”
Lewis, a pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music, made his first recordings at Sun Records in Memphis in 1956.
“Crazy Arms” sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was Lewis’ 1957 hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” that catapulted him to international stardom.
He then went on to have major hits like “Great Balls of Fire,” “Breathless,” and “High School Confidential.”
His rock and roll career, however, suffered as a result of his marriage to Myra Gale Brown, his 13-year-old cousin.
Following the scandal, his popularity quickly dwindled, and with a few exceptions, such as a cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” he did not have much chart success in the early 1960s.
His live performances were becoming increasingly wild and energetic at this time. His 1964 live album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg is regarded as one of the wildest and greatest live rock albums ever by music journalists and fans.
Lewis made the transition to country music in 1968, and had hits with songs like “Another Place, Another Time.”
This rekindled his career, and he regularly topped the country-western charts throughout the late 1960s and 1970s; Lewis had 30 songs reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Chart during his seven-decade career.
“To Make Love Sweeter for You,” “There Must Be More to Love Than This,” “Would You Take Another Chance on Me,” and “Me and Bobby McGee” were among his No. 1 country hits.
Lewis’ success lasted for decades, and he embraced his rock and roll roots with songs like “Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper and “Rockin’ My Life Away” by Mack Vickery.
Lewis is still touring the world and releasing new albums in the twenty-first century.
Last Man Standing, his 2006 album, is his best-selling release to date, selling over a million copies worldwide. Mean Old Man, released in 2010, received some of Lewis’ best sales of his career.
Lewis has a dozen gold records under his belt in both rock and country. He received four Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement and two for Hall of Fame.
Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame recognized his pioneering contribution to the genre.
He was also among the first to be inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. In 2022, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid, chronicled his life in 1989. Rolling Stone ranked his box set All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology at 242 on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” in 2003.
He was ranked No. 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004.
Lewis was the last surviving member of Sun Records’ Million Dollar Quartet, as well as the album Class of ’55, which featured Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley.
“His drive, timing, offhand vocal power, unmistakable boogie-plus piano, and absolute confidence in the face of the void make Jerry Lee the quintessential rock and roller,” said music critic Robert Christgau of Lewis.
Jerry Lee Lewis Net Worth in 2022
Jerry Lee Lewis was estimated to have a net worth of $12.8 million dollars at the time of his death on October 28, 2022.
He had accumulated his net worth with the versatility he had shown in each field he had worked in.
His main source of earnings was his career as a singer, songwriter, and pianist.
Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana to Elmo Kidd Lewis Sr. and Mary “Mamie” Herron Lewis.
He grew up in eastern Louisiana in a poor farming family.
He began playing the piano as a child with two cousins, Mickey Gilley (later a popular country music singer) and Jimmy Swaggart (later a popular televangelist).
To buy him a piano, his parents mortgaged their farm. Carl McVoy, an older cousin who later recorded with Bill Black’s Combo, the radio, and the sounds from Haney’s Big House, a black juke joint across the tracks all influenced Lewis.
Lewis made his first public appearance with a country and western band on November 19, 1949, at a car dealership in Ferriday.
The highlight of his set was a cover of Sticks McGhee’s “Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee.”
Lewis mentions Moon Mullican as an artist who inspired him on the live album By Request, More of the Greatest Live Show on Earth.
His mother enrolled him at the Southwest Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas, so he could sing exclusively evangelical songs.
Lewis’ association with the school ended the same night he dared to play a boogie-woogie rendition of “My God Is Real” at a church assembly.
Lewis performed some “worldly” music during a talent show, according to Pearry Green, then president of the student body.
The next morning, the school’s dean summoned Lewis and Green to his office to expel them.
Following that incident, he returned home and began playing at clubs in and around Ferriday and Natchez, Mississippi, becoming a part of the burgeoning new rock and roll sound and cutting his first demo recording for Cosimo Matassa in New Orleans in 1952.
He traveled to Nashville around 1955, where he played in clubs and tried to drum up interest, but was turned down by the Grand Ole Opry because he was already performing at the Louisiana Hayride country stage and radio show in Shreveport.