Jerry Lee Lewis dies at 87

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Apr 11, 2002
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Iggles, Georgia.

The dude had his issues (not the least of which was marrying his 13yo cousin) but there was no denying his ground breaking talent, John Lennon kissing his feet when they first met kind of says it all for me;).

One of the legends - he was there at the birth of rock’’roll, one of Sun Studio’s ”Million Dollar Quartet” - along with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. And even after he was “cancelled”, he was rocking harder than anyone on earth in Europe in the early 1960’s, when the first wave of rock’n’roll had been killed off in the U.S., and The Beatles were still just playing pop at the time in comparison with this headbanging stuff -

As well as being one of the greatest on-stage entertainers of all time, Jerry Lee was one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century - what he could do with a piano was almost obscene. He was one of the inaugural inductees in the Rock And Roll HoF in 1986 and just 10 days before his death, he was finally given the long overdue induction into the Country Music HoF, with Kris Kristofferson accepting the honour on his behalf -
For more history about the life and music of Jerry Lee Lewis, see posts # 349-352 & 365-367, on Pages 15 & 16 of the Country Music Thread.

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Yeah just a pity about the hebephilia, incest, adultry and poligamy that got him "cancelled" seems like Rock stars cant get away with anything these days. ;)
Haha - I was kinda ready for this reaction (albeit, in this case made in jest). So for the 4 points above, I just thought it worth some context (but not a general denial - except just maybe the first and second ones to an extent).

Hebephilia - Right up until 2019, it was perfectly legal in Louisiana (Jerry Lee grew up in the Louisianan backwoods) to marry as long as you had gone through puberty. In the 1950’s in the deep American South, it wasn’t just legal but not all that uncommon for females to be married at 13 - and very common by age 15 (like Loretta Lynn, who had 4 children by age 20). Priscilla Presley was only 14 when she first hooked up with Elvis, and then there’s Chuck Berry and that 14 year old Mexican girl. It’s still normal in many cultures (e.g. Islamic) today. So Jerry was genuinely bewildered about what all the British fuss was about.

Incest - Well, she was only his second cousin, so not only legal but again not at all uncommon back then - or even now - in certain parts of America (and certain parts of Australia).

Adultry - Yes, no doubt he was guilty of this, but it seems this was pretty much normal behaviour for travelling musicians back then - not just rock but country stars, as I’ve covered a long line of serial sinners in this regard on the Country Music thread, from Hank Williams, Carl Smith, Johnny Cash, Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings to name just a select few amongst a horde of others - even the devout church going Baptist, Ed Brown was caught out sinning. So Jerry Lee, who always professed himself a God fearing Christian, has loads of friends here.

Poligamy - Yes, it seems Jerry Lee was careless or impatient at times waiting for all the t’s to be crossed before re-marrying. My favourite story of him was when he tried explaining to the British press that his third marriage (to his 13 year old second cousin) was still valid, despite him not being legally divorced from his second wife, because his second marriage wasn’t actually legally valid in the first place due to him not being legally divorced from his first wife at the time - he couldn’t understand why this explanation only seemed to make matters worse for him! In the backwoods of Louisiana, none of these minor technicalities mattered no how.

Anyway, his passing marks an end of an era - he was the last big star alive from the very birth of rock’n’roll in Memphis in the mid-1950’s (Charlie Feathers is still alive, but he was never a big star). It was also fitting he lived just long enough to see his long overdue admission to the Country Music HoF, just 10 days before his death. He had wanted that for a long time and perhaps he was happy to go after his induction.
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