Tributes paid to rockabilly legend Jerry Lee Lewis

The music of American country and rockabilly legend Jerry Lee Lewis was recognised in a specially recorded performance this past week by an array of top singing stars.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 9:56 am
‘The Killer’: Jerry Lee Lewis

The CMT (Country Music Television) ‘Skyville Live’ show featured George Strait, Toby Keith, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton and Lee Ann Womack, with a personal appearance by the man himself, widely known in music circles as ‘The Killer’.

Jerry Lee, now 85, reflecting on the special event, said: “Not only did I get to enjoy my music through the renditions of some of the finest musicians in the world, they also all happen to be my friends. What an honour.”

Louisiana-born Jerry Lee Lewis is, with 84-year-old-Don Everly, one of only two living members of the first class of the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Hall of Fame where he was inducted alongside Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and more in 1986. The other members of the first class, from 1986, have all died. Three of them were inducted posthumously: Buddy Holly had died in 1959 (age 22), Sam Cooke in 1964 (age 33), and Elvis Presley in 1977 (age 42).

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Jerry Lee is also a member of the Rockabilly, Memphis and Mississippi music halls of fame and has received many other awards and honours from music organisations worldwide.

Lee Ann Womack said, in a compliment; “Jerry Lee is one of the greatest artistes that we have had the pleasure of having in country music. I think anybody who has made that kind of impact deserves recognition.”

Jerry Lee Lewis has had 17 Top 10 Country albums and 30 Top 10 country hit songs. He has continued 60-plus years of singing and prolific piano playing for fans around the world.

He suffered a stroke in 2019, but through recovery, he has continued to entertain, He is recognised as one of the all-time best singer-songwriters, musicians and pianists.

Admirers say of him: “His drive, his timing, his off-hand vocal power, his unmistakable boogie-plus piano, and his absolute confidence in his music make Jerry Lee the quintessential rock ‘n’ roller.” Originally filmed in 2017, the Skyville Live show marked the 60th anniversary of Jerry Lee’s Grammy mega-hits ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’, both of which were recorded at Sam Phillips’ celebrated Sun Records studio in Memphis in 1957.

Another big hit of his from that era was the romantic ballad Crazy Arms, His friends and associates then were Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, who famously combined to be known as the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’.

The deep country music involvement of Jerry Lee emerged after his attachment to rock sounds ended in the early 1960s. His singing style was as a honky tonk crooner and he had chart toppers with Another Place, Another Time; What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me), and Chantilly Lace.

Seasoned observers say Jerry Lee’s melding of his extrovert personality with his choice song material made him a pure country performer.

Country superstar Alan Jackson has a new 21-track album, titled ‘Where Have You Gone?’, due for release on May 14.

For the ‘Good Ole Boy’ from Newnan, Georgia, this is his 16th studio album and his first in six years. Fifteen of the songs were written by this most traditional country performer.

Among the tracks are personal songs “You’ll Always Be My Baby’ and ‘I Do’, which were written for the weddings of two of Alan’s three daughters.

He also wrote ‘Where Her Heart Has Always Been’ for his mother Mama Ruth’s funeral in 2017.

The song includes a recording of his devoted Christian mother reading from the Bible.

Alan, now 62, said: “When I write, I visualise back home in Newnan, Georgia and growing up. Real country songs are life and love and heartache, drinking and Mama and having a good time. But it’s the sounds of the instruments, too. The steel and acoustic guitar, the fiddle – those things have a sound and a tone. Getting that right, the way those things make you feel, that’s country, too.”

Before he got his big break in the late 1980s, Alan worked as a motor mechanic and fork lift driver in Newnan, while writing songs in his spare time.

The rise to fame came about after a chance meeting at Nashville airport with the late Glen Campbell. He got a job as a songwriter with Campbell’s publisher, the company which later sponsored his first tour.

Alan Jackson has also recorded two gospel and two Christmas albums, and his recordings have sold 75 million globally. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017, and the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2018.

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