Jerry Lee Lewis
(born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter, musician,
and pianist who is often known by his nickname of The Killer and is
often viewed as "rock & roll's first great wild man."
An early pioneer of rock and roll music, in 1956 Lewis made his first
recordings at Sun Records. "Crazy Arms" sold 300,000 copies in the
South, but it was his 1957 hit "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" that shot
Lewis to fame worldwide. Lewis followed this when he recorded songs such
as "Great Balls of Fire", "Breathless" and "High School Confidential".
However, Lewis's rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his
marriage to his 13-year-old cousin when he was 22.
He had little success in the charts following the scandal and his
popularity quickly faded. His live performance fees plummeted from
$10,000 per night to $250. In the meantime he was determined to gain
back some of his popularity. During the early 1960s he didn't have much
chart success with few exceptions such as "What'd I Say". His live
performances at this time were increasingly wild and energetic. His
album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg from 1964 is often regarded by many
music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest rock and
roll concert albums ever. After recording songs such as "I'm on Fire"
for several years with little success, in 1968 Lewis made a transition
into country music and had hits with songs such as "Another Place,
Another Time". This reignited his career and throughout the late 1960s
and 1970s he regularly topped the country-western charts. His No. 1
country hits included "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".
Lewis's successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his
rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper's
"Chantilly Lace" and Mack Vickery's "Rockin' My Life Away". In the 21st
century Lewis continues to tour to audiences around the world and still
releases new albums. One such album, titled Last Man Standing, is his
best selling to date at over a million copies sold worldwide. This was
followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of
Lewis has had a dozen gold records in both rock and country, won several
Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lewis was
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his pioneering
contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of
Fame. In 1989, his life was chronicled in the movie Great Balls of
Fire, starring Dennis Quaid. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed his box set
All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology number 242 on their list of "500
Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2004, they ranked him number 24 on
their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Lewis is the last
surviving member of Sun Records' Million Dollar Quartet and the Class of
'55 album, which also included Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison
and Elvis Presley.