Personalities | Jerry Lee Lewis | Fifties | Rock

(Piano, vocals, b. 1935)

After signing to Sun Records in 1957, Louisiana-born rock’n’roller Lewis, noted for his percussive piano style, opened his account with two million-selling US Top 3 hits, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On’ and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ (both 1957), but caused major media controversy during a 1958 UK tour when it was discovered that his wife, who was also his cousin, was 13 years old (legal in parts of the US, unacceptable in the UK). This blighted his pop career, but from the late 1960s onwards, he combined the rockabilly that made him famous with country music, becoming a major US star with over 60 US country hits, many making the Top 10, including his chart-topping 1972 revival of ‘Chantilly Lace’. Now over 70, Lewis continues to tour, and remains one of the greatest early rock’n’rollers. Dennis Quaid played him in 1989’s Great Balls Of Fire movie.

Styles & Forms | Fifties | Rock
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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