What is there to say about Lewis that isn’t going to be regurgitated and put out there a hundred times like a shitty mass-produced whiskey? Jerry Lee Lewis was a rare vintage. He was tastes of Louisiana honey mixed with fine corn mash along with rare and bold hidden notes of Hell fire and brimstone.
There is way more to Jerry Lee Lewis than just cold facts about his life and music. This man was a bucket of… this man was a whole whiskey barrel of complications and he deserves more.
This is not some premade obituary that has been sitting in a folder on an editor’s desktop for the last ten years. We refuse to do that to our readers. Writing without feeling is just clickbait and fodder to manipulate algorithms. Legends don’t deserve that. Readers don’t deserve that, and I refuse to do that. I’ll leave those up to Rolling Stone and CNN.
Lewis has died at the age of 87 years old in his home in Desoto County, Mississippi. He passed away with his seventh wife Judith next to him. A statement from his wife was released and Lewis told her that “he welcomed the hereafter and that he was not afraid.”
Most know Lewis as The Wild Man from Ferriday and some simply know him as The Killer. I personally called him my father. I’m just kidding. Just breaking the mood a little.
Lewis onstage was just as his nicknames would claim. He was wild, uninhibited, and ferocious. He also displayed the same kind of devil may care attitude in his personal life as well.
Lewis was one of the last standing legends of the original rockers in the US. If Lewis wouldn’t have married Myra Gail (his 13-year-old 3rd cousin) he may have went on to be bigger than even Elvis Presley himself.
I could go on and on and play into the crowds that will read this while calling Lewis things like “a pedophile” and rally that he was a disgusting human being for what he did with his cousin. The fact is that Lewis never tried to hide his shortcomings in life. That’s a lot more than I can say about many celebrities in history or even in the present; including Lewis’ own cousin, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart who destroyed his career because of his hidden love for the hookers.
In “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story,” Rick Bragg’s biography about Lewis he said,
“I ain’t no goody goody, and I ain’t no phony. I never pretended to be anything and anything I ever did I did it wide-open as a case knife. I’ve lived my life to the fullest and I had a good time doin’ it.”
He stood by his words and the repercussions of those actions. That does command a certain level of respect.
The man was a first-class fighter. He fought battles with alcoholism, drug addictions, and even health problems. He lost his son to an accidental drowning. Steve Allen Lewis was just three years old. He also lost his son, Jerry Lee Lewis Jr. in a car accident in Mississippi. His son was just 19 years old.
I myself grew up in a musician house. My whole family plays and sings. Lewis’ music was around the house unless my Aunt Virginia (God rest her soul) was around. She used to call him “a nasty man.” To tell you the truth, it made me like listening to his music even more. At the time, I didn’t know why my beloved auntie disliked him, I just felt the music. Lewis’ music rooted itself into my bone marrow.
It wasn’t until I was about twelve when I first saw the movie “Great Balls of Fire” starring Dennis Quaid that I realized… “WTF?!?”
The scene where Quaid comes in, “Here comes the creepy mouse.” To this day is one of the most cringeworthy moments in movie history. Despite all that the film was honest and brave. For Lewis to drudge up all the old controversies that nearly destroyed his whole career was one of the smartest and bravest choices after 30 years of rebuilding his status.
There are going to be many folks out there that are going to talk a lot of mess about Jerry Lee Lewis. They are going to call him horrible things. People might not even read this article because of their own opinions of the man. They have every right to do so. Do remember the man was married to Myra and had two children with her. Ironically, they were married for thirteen years.
Lewis enjoyed many extreme highs and lows in his career, but he was always a showstopper. He was a true father of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Lewis’ body may have given out, that’s only because his spirit was too strong to hold it.
Lewis is survived by his seventh wife Judith Coghlan Lewis, and his many children, Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Pheobe Lewis and Lori Lancaster, sister Linda Gail Lewis, cousin Swaggart and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He will be forever remembered by the many friends and fans.