Much has been said these past few days since his death – and most of it was true. Jerry Lee Lewis died on October 26th – ‘the last man standing’ from rock’n’roll’s early formative era. He was rock’s first ‘wild man’, a pioneer of rockabilly piano, an incendiary live performer who very often finished the show. Few people – including Elvis Presley – wanted to follow Jerry Lee’s show-stopping performances. As is well-known, his career – on the verge of superstardom – imploded virtually overnight when his wedding to his 13-year old cousin was revealed in 1958.
Mainstream radio airplay and live bookings dried up instantly and Jerry Lee’s career seemed doomed by the early 60s.
And yet – and yet – such a prodigious talent would not be denied. Jerry Lee – ‘The Killer’ as he was called early on, and liked calling himself – would rise again. He first reappeared on the country music scene of the late 1960s. And, with the rock’n’roll revival of the early 70s, Jerry Lee, along with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Rick Nelson and many others, found new audiences among the young, and of course, the warm ‘welcome back’ of his older listeners. All seemed ‘forgiven’.
Jerry Lee was in the inaugural class of pioneers inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis, Chuck, Buddy, Fats, Little Richard, Don and Phil , Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown. What a cast of legends – and now, they’re all gone – Jerry Lee, to quote one of his albums, was indeed ‘The Last Man Standing’. I’ll have a 12-song salute to Lewis, including his familiar classics, along with some tasty surprises, and a couple of live performances that demonstrate his unmatchable style. If you’re a rockabilly fan, you’ll love this special edition of ‘Vintage Favourites.
I’ll also have a birthday salute to Gordon Lightfoot, featuring several of his live performances. And in our first hour – ‘This Week in Zoomer Music‘ remembers Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons, Petula Clark at 90, and Grammy’s most embarrassing moment admitting the ‘Milli Vanilli Scandal’. Plus: ‘The Story Behind the Song’ ‘Jailhouse Rock’ – one of Presley’s greatest songs, a template for the modern music video – and a film, Elvis couldn’t watch. Find out why!
That’s all on the next Vintage Favourites this Sunday (Nov.13) 2-4:30.