How Jerry Lee Lewis’ career was almost ruined – what he did with his cousin caused an uproar

One of the earliest and most influential stars of rock ‘n’ roll has died: Jerry Lee Lewis, the piano-playing rocker behind classics like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” died on October 28, 2022.

The announcement of his death came as a shock – for many reasons.

For example, the tragic news came just one day after the singer’s death was erroneously reported by TMZ.

So, it was a bit messy around Jerry Lee Lewis’s death – but maybe it went hand in hand with the singer’s often turbulent and controversial career.

A rock ‘n’ roll pioneer

Lewis, nicknamed “The Killer,” became a star in the 1950s, as rock ‘n’ roll was emerging as the favorite music of America’s youth. Lewis, with his energetic stage presence and bad-boy persona, is regarded as an architect for the genre, helping define its sound and image.

“I had created rock & roll before they ever thought about having rock & roll,” Lewis told Rolling Stone in 2014. “When Elvis come out, he was rockabilly. When I come out with ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,’ that was rock & roll. That’s when the name ‘rock & roll’ was put in front.”

Lewis was known for infusing his performance with stage antics that shocked and thrilled audiences, including setting the piano on fire and playing the instrument with his feet.

In his heyday, he was a rival to megastars like Elvis Presley. He is best remembered for two definitive early-rock hits: “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” both released in 1957.

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