HONORS POUR IN FOR JERRY LEE LEWIS!
Monday, May 23rd, 2022
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
HONORS POUR IN FOR JERRY LEE LEWIS!
Louisiana rockabilly Jerry Lee Lewis has just been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He has already been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, so the honors keep pouring in for this Louisiana musical icon. Let me tell you about me and Jerry Lee.
In 1958, I was at a high school hop in St. Louis when the number one song in the country was performed. I danced with my girlfriend to Jerry Lee’s hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” We played the song over and over. My favorite part was when his vocals got quiet and in a soft voice he sang:
Now let’s get real low one time now
All you gotta do honey is kinda stand in one spot
wiggle around just a little bit
that’s what you gotta do yeah…
Oh babe whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
I play a little music myself, but I have never heard anyone play a boogie woogie piano like he could. He often performed standing up and could even play with his feet, after he kicked over his piano bench. Jerry Lee was something else.
Fast forward ten years almost to that day. I’m sitting in my office as a new country lawyer in Ferriday, Louisiana. I had few clients so I was always anxious when the door opened. One afternoon, in walks “The Killer” himself. I recognized him immediately with that long wavy hair and pointed chin. He didn’t need a lawyer but had a family member that was in a bit of trouble with the local game wardens. I was glad to help and that forged a long relationship with the king of rock and roll.
There were other incidents from time to time, and when a relative or friend appealed to Jerry Lee for help, I would get a call. I never sent him a bill for my services, but I could get front row seats to his concerts. He played at a Baton Rouge club called Floyd Brown’s back in the 80s, and Jerry Lee kept my group entertained backstage for a good while after the show.
You have to admire his resiliency. Jerry Lee has certainly had his highs and lows, but in his worse moments, he’s always had the heart and stubbornest to fight back. And he could pound the piano with such abandon that it’s a wonder it didn’t come apart.
His popularity today continues at a high level that most star musical performers envy.
I attended a dinner in New York last year for a relative, and a wealthy hedge fund CEO came to my table and introduced himself. He had heard I was from Ferriday. All he wanted to talk about was Jerry Lee Lewis. “My musical idol,” he told me. “I even have a piano in my office, so to unwind, I play The Killer’s music.” This guy has billions, travels the world in his own private jet, and to relax, he plays the music of a Ferriday boy who cut his musical teeth hanging out with the likes of Mickey Gilley and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart.
The three cousins all were self-taught and could each play the piano before they reached 10 years old. They went separate directions and each found success. At one time, Rev. Swaggart (whose family I also represented) had a worldwide following, and his preaching is still watched in numerous countries. Mickey Gilley, who did several concerts for me in my political days, was named the country singer of the year, sadly passed away just last month.
Jerry Lee is just one more of the musical legends that call Louisiana their home. Here’s hoping he lives for years to come and is back on the concert stage. We all want to hear again about a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.”
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also look over a list of books he has published at www.thelisburnpress.com.