Jerry Lee Lewis, the rock'n'roll legend, died at 87
Eva Deschamps / October 29, 2022
One of the last great pioneers of rock and roll, the American musician Jerry Lee Lewis, died at the age of 87 years, announced Friday his agent to AFP.
Associated for eternity with the song "Great Balls of Fire", known for his strong presence on stage and his dynamic style on the piano, a rock legend from Louisiana (south), Jerry Lee Lewis died of natural causes, said the same source.
Both friend and rival of King Elvis Presley himself, Jerry Lee Lewis had influenced a whole generation of musicians, like Bruce Springsteen who said about him in 1995: "He does not play rock'n roll, he is rock'n roll."
He was as famous for his hits as for the dramas and scandals that marked his life.
Born on September 29, 1935 into a poor family in Ferriday, Louisiana, he discovered the piano at the age of 9 and his parents mortgaged the family farm to pay for his instrument.
In 1956, he left for Memphis (Tennessee), the Mecca of the new American music, and was one of the first to sign with the famous Sun Records label.
His meeting that same year with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins resulted in a legendary recording session known as the "Million Dollar Quartet".
In 1957, his first song, "Whole lotta shakin' goin' on", already bears the mark of his disheveled style.
While rock music was still in its infancy, the crowd flocked to see him ferociously pounding the keyboard with his fingers, elbows and feet, his hair swinging furiously to the frantic rhythm as he sent his stool tumbling in a wild dance step.
A few months later, "Great Balls of Fire", which was also the title of a docu-drama about his life in 1989, propelled him to the top of the sales charts and made him one of the most adored stars of the moment.
A scandal broke when the press discovered that his third wife, Myra Gale Brown, was his 13-year-old first cousin. American radio stations decided to boycott the singer, who was disgraced for half a dozen years before resurfacing by abandoning rock for country music.
Whimsical and sometimes violent, alcohol and drugs caused him serious health problems and as many problems with the police.
But the legend did not fade, on the contrary, and he was among the first musicians inducted into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" (museum and pantheon of rock, in Cleveland, Ohio), at its inception in 1986.
He spent part of his last years on his ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi, with his seventh wife, and was still performing in early 2019. But, following a minor stroke in May of this year, he had cancelled concerts.