Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
Genre: Rock and Roll
The music on Jerry Lee Lewis’ self-titled 1958 debut doesn’t really reflect his wild-man persona. That might be because his biggest hits, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” are inexplicably left off the LP. It would’ve made for a Grade A record. What’s left is still a vital document of early rock ‘n’ roll, the history of which can’t be told without a long chapter devoted to Lewis.
Just because he scandalously sabotaged his own career doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to enjoy his awesome boogie-woogie sensibilities. Lewis’ influential piano playing put the instrument in an entirely new context. People came from far and wide not to hear Lewis sing, but rather to watch him beat the shit out of the piano. He was rock’s first instrumental showman.
His career was derailed once the press got a peak at his personal life, but the undeniable power of his music remains. Nobody defined rockabilly more than the wild-man who married his 13-year-old cousin and played piano with his fists.