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Jerry Lee Lewis is the musician and singer of this century and will be remembered well into the following years. From his early blues, gospel and country roots, he learned of the black rock and roll and white country boogie of the early '50s and put it all together in a brand new and ferocious style. It was not exactly rock and roll or rockabilly it was complete different to any other style. It combined the wild sound of rock, with the intensity of the blues and the soul of old-time country.
Born September 29, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, Jerry Lee grew up to the sounds of his parents, Jimmie Rodgers records and Al Jolson. At the age of five, while playing the piano at his aunt's home, his parents declared that Jerry Lee was born to be a great pianist and later mortgaged their farm to buy him a piano of his own, a Stark Upright. Soon afterwards, Jerry Lee was playing to large crowds at grand openings, civic centers, etc. At the age of fifteen, he was playing professionally for a traveling revival.
He became a master of all country styles, plus the Jazz of Jolson and others. He soon discovered the Delta blues of his region and became a master of this style, too. Moon Mullican, an excellent country-blues pianist, was a big inspiration as was Hank Williams and boogie bluesman Piano Red. Merrill E. Moore is another excellent singer/pianist, who is said to have been a big inspiration (Jerry Lee did "House of Blue Lights" and others associated with Merrill Moore).
Soon, he was a master of all styles from country to swing to blues to R&B to Jazz. Jerry Lee cut his first two records in 1954 and signed to Sun Records in 1956. His first release coupled the self-written blues "End of the Road" with a blues-drenched country song "Crazy Arms" and cemented the Lewis' style.
All of his next releases like "Great Balls of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Breathless" and "High School Confidential" entered the top positions of the country, blues and pop charts between 1957 and 1958.
However, there is a lot more to Jerry Lee Lewis than that. He went on to become an excellent R&B singer in the late '50s, then progressed to be a soul singer and country singer in the '60s, finding enormous success as a country artist. He turned gospel in 1970 and returned to Southern blues in 1973 and 1979. His later albums are as good as ever, including his "Young Blood."
In 1986, Jerry Lee was unanimously voted the First Artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His life was profiled in 1989 in the motion picture, "Great Balls of Fire," starring Dennis Quaid. In 1993, Jerry Lee wrote and published his autobiography, "Killer," with author Charles White.
Hit songs include --
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