Jerry Lee Lewis, the rock’n’roll pioneer who became one of the most infamous figures in popular music, has died aged 87, his publicist has said.
He died of natural causes at his home in DeSoto County, Mississippi. “Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis,” a statement said. “He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid.”
Lewis’s energetic performances on songs including Great Balls of Fire helped install rock’n’roll as the dominant American pop music of the 1950s. He was born in Louisiana in 1935, the son of a poor farming family who mortgaged their home to buy Lewis his first piano. While learning the instrument and studying at an evangelical school, he was kicked out for performing a boogie-woogie version of My God is Real that was deemed irreverent.
Jerry Lee Lewis had no direct impact on me. Before my time and not someone I sought out after the fact. The most I know of him is from the movie GREAT BALLS OF FIRE starring Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder. AP notes:
Of all the rock rebels to emerge in the 1950s, few captured the new genre’s attraction and danger as unforgettably as the Louisiana-born piano player who called himself “The Killer.”
Tender ballads were best left to the old folks. Lewis was all about lust and gratification, with his leering tenor and demanding asides, violent tempos and brash glissandi, cocky sneer and crazy blond hair. He was a one-man stampede who made the fans scream and the keyboards swear, his live act so combustible that during a 1957 performance of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” on “The Steve Allen Show,” chairs were thrown at him like buckets of water on an inferno.
Lewis — an inaugural inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, a 2005 recipient of a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and, at the age of 86, a 2022 inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame — was a powerhouse keyboardist, mercurial vocalist and rampaging, unpredictable showman who could master virtually any song, be it rock ‘n’ roll, country, R&B, gospel or pop.
Lewis ultimately transcended category. With typical arrogance, he would frequently declare that there were only four real stylists in American music: Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and, of course, Jerry Lee Lewis.
The late journalist Nick Tosches, Lewis’ great Boswell, captured some of his titanic dimensions in his book “Country,” published in 1977 during his country resurgence: “Believe it: Jerry Lee Lewis is a creature of mythic essence….He was — and in a way still is — the heart of redneck rock ’n’ roll, and one of the greatest country singers who ever lived.
“He is the last American wild man.”
In 1958, at the age of 22, after he attained national success with his pounding rockabilly singles “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” his career hit the wall with the scandalous revelation of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin. It took him a decade to regain his commercial footing with a series of powerful honky-tonk ballads.
But it was then-22-year-old Lewis’ third marriage to Myra Gale Brown — his first cousin once removed — when she was just 13 that truly rocked his career. The ensuing scandal led to boycotts of his music, blacklisting at venues and appearance fees that plummeted from $10,000 a night to $250.
Goodness gracious, indeed.
The “Great Balls of Fire” singer — known for his boogie-woogie piano playing — married Brown on Dec. 12, 1957. At the time, his young bride, who was 9 years his junior, still believed in Santa Claus. And Lewis even moved in with his wife’s parents after their wedding.
When the newlyweds went to England on Lewis’ first European tour, he lied about his new wife’s age, telling the British press that she was 15. But when the truth was discovered, he was labeled a “cradle robber” and “baby snatcher” by the UK media, with one paper suggesting that Lewis be deported.
The scandal followed Lewis back to the US. Meanwhile, it turned out that his second marriage to Jane Mitchum had not yet been finalized before he wed Brown, so the couple got rehitched in another ceremony on June 4, 1958. And Lewis even had an open letter printed in Billboard that he hoped would validate their relationship.
He was a pioneer -- along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, etc. And love Little Richard, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, know their songs, appreciate their greatness. I don't know why Jerry Lewis never spoke to me.
Maybe because he was a cruel person? Like when he met Janis Joplin and took pleasure in making her cry? Or when he got arrested in 1976 for trying to kill Elvis?
Not a fan but he was a legend and a pioneer.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot;''
Descended from a well-known tribe in the southern province of Maysan, Mr Al Sudani, 52, started his political career after 2003 as a member of the Shiite Dawa Party.
From 2004 to 2009, he served as member of the provincial council in his home town and as provincial governor for a year.
He ran for election with the State of Law Coalition led by former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki and has won three terms in parliament since 2014.
Among other posts, he served as minister of human rights from 2010 to 2014 and minister of labour and social affairs from 2014 to 2018.
Al-Sudani is taking over from Mustafa al-Kadhimi who was serving as an interim prime minister after widespread anti-government protests shook the country and triggered early elections.
The political deadlock since then has done little to quell public anger over what many see as widespread and rampant corruption.
"The epidemic of corruption that has affected all aspects of life is more deadly than the corona pandemic and has been the cause of many economic problems, weakening the state's authority, increasing poverty, unemployment, and poor public services," al-Sudani said in parliament.
Formation of Iraqi Government
The United States congratulates Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on forming a new Iraqi government. We look forward to working with him and his government on the range of our shared interests, from improving services for the Iraqi people to ensuring a safe, stable, and sovereign Iraq as outlined in our Strategic Framework Agreement.
The Iraqi people deserve economic opportunity, an end to corruption, and improved public services. The United States welcomes Prime Minister al-Sudani’s commitment to bring weapons under the control of official and legitimate state institutions. We share the Iraqi government’s interest in preserving stability and security.
The United States stands ready to work with the Iraqi government and people to confront Iraq’s challenges together, from improving respect for human rights to addressing climate change and improving economic opportunities for a growing population. Iraq has a partner in the United States as it moves forward with reforms.
Baghdad, 27 October 2022 - The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) welcomes the confirmation of Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani’s government by the Council of Representatives. The swift completion of his cabinet is now an essential next step.
The new government faces many serious challenges that require decisive action. These will include addressing Iraq’s systematic corruption; implementing desperately needed reforms and delivering adequate services to all citizens; diversifying the economy; encouraging the meaningful participation of women and youth; tackling the effects of climate change; ending impunity and making perpetrators accountable; and reining in non-state armed actors while asserting the State’s authority.
A strong resolve, across the spectrum, to provide concrete solutions will prove vital. The United Nations reaffirms its steadfast commitment to supporting the government and people of Iraq.
His cabinet consists of 22 ministers, mainly representing the Administering the State Coalition's parties that formed the government.
There are currently two Kurdish ministers in the cabinet. Fuad Hussein, representing the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) member, was elected as Iraq's foreign minister for the second time.
Khalid Shwani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) became Iraq's justice minister.
Al-Sudani's cabinet has three female ministers, Finance Minister Taif Sami, Minister of Migration and Displacement Evan Jabro, and Hyam Al Yassri of the telecommunication ministry of communications.
- Health: Salih Mahdi
- Finance: Taif Sami
- Interior: Abdul Amir Al-Shimmery
- Water Resources: Aoun Diab
- Electricity: Ziad Ali Fadhil Sudani
- Oil: Hayyan Abdul Ghani
- Youth and Sports: Ahmad Al-Mubarqa’
- Agriculture: Abbas Jabr
- Transport: Razzaq Muhaibis
- Labor and Social Affairs: Ahmad Al-Asadi
- Communications: Hoyam Abboud
- Higher Education: Na’im Al-Abboudi
- Planning: Muhammad Tamim
- Culture and Antiquities: Ahmad Fakkak Ahmad
- Defense: Thabit Muhammad
- Education: Ibrahim Namis
- Industry: Khalid Battal
- Trade: Athir Daowd Salman
- Justice: Khalid Shawani
- Foreign Affairs: Fuad Hussein
- Immigration: Ivan Faiq
In his speech prior to the vote, Sudani described the economic and political priorities of his government.
“The world is witnessing tremendous political and economic changes and conflicts, which will add new challenges to our country,” Sudani said. “We will ... do our utmost to succeed in addressing these challenges."
Analysts say that despite breaking the deadlock, the new government is set to face a number of obstacles.
“The fulfilment of the enormous expectations outlined in the Ministerial Programme will be one of the primary obstacles this government will encounter,” Research Associate at Chatham House, Hayder al-Shakeri, told Rudaw English on Friday.
“For instance, fighting corruption throughout and organizing early elections one year later. This will not occur while attempting to maintain the satisfaction of the political elite who have empowered Sudani to become Prime Minister,” Shakeri argues.