Today We Remember

Remembering Jerry Lee Lewis: My Favorite Photos

Hi folks and Welcome to yet another Memorial Blog Post here on Retro Dee’s Guide To The Best Era Ever.

2022 was a year fraught with loss, especially losses in the music industry. As time goes on, our legendary heroes age and eventually die. In 2022 alone we lost the following stars: Ronnie Spector, Bobby Rydell, Ronnie Hawkins, Sonny West, Charlie Gracie and of course, Jerry “J.I.” Allison, the last living member of the original Crickets.

Another loss in the dwindling world of Rock N Roll Pioneers was Jerry Lee Lewis, who died at the age of 87 on October 28, 2022.

Jerry Lee Lewis ca. 1958

Jerry Lee Lewis was born on September 29, 1935 in Ferriday, LA. During the course of his seven-decade career, Jerry Lee Lewis became known as “The Killer”: a name well-earned by the best piano player of all time.

Mr. Lewis shaped the very foundation of Rock N Roll with stellar hits like “Great Balls of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “High School Confidential”…. But who wants to hear another biography? We all know he married his cousin, get over it. What I would rather do is remember Mr. Lewis with a few of my favorite photos…

(Please note that I do not own any of these photos; the original owners retain all copyrights. Also see Disclaimer at the bottom of this post.)

Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Joe B. Mauldin, 1958.

Can anyone guess why I chose this particular photo? Well, we all know that Jerry Lee Lewis was fabulous, but did you know that he worked with stars who were equally fabulous? Case in point, this 1958 photo with Buddy Holly, resting his chin in his hand as he listens to Jerry Lee talk about… something. What could it be? I actually made a meme out of this photo, but I’m not going to post it here… or anywhere. And over on the right we have The Crickets’ own boy-genius bassist, Joe B. Mauldin. What a cutie. I just love how young men wore ties in those days!

L-R: Jimmy Velvet, Jerry Lee Lewis, Don Everly & Buddy Holly ca. 1958.

This next photo, we see Buddy Holly, again, playing his Fender Stratocaster while Jerry Lee Lewis looks on from his piano. Also in this photo are Don Everly, and a fella named Jimmy Velvet, who is far lesser known, but big enough of a star to manage to have gone on tour with Buddy, Jerry Lee and The Everly Brothers in 1958. 

This photo was just begging for another meme, but this time I made a blog post about it instead. What I find so amusing is the way Jerry Lee, Don and Jimmy are watching Buddy. They look so worried! At least, that’s the way I see it.  Of course they weren’t worried, it’s just the moment it was taken and the serious expressions they happen to have on their faces. Come to think of it, Buddy doesn’t look too happy either. But the question is, if Don is there, where is Phil? For the past four years or so, I pondered that very question. If Don and Phil were inseparable, professionally at the very least, then where was Phil Everly when this photo was taken? He could’ve been in the bathroom, but we all know that stars don’t have to use the bathroom, so that couldn’t have been it… It looks like a practice session, so Phil should definitely have been there. 

Well, just after Jerry Lee Lewis passed away, this photo came up again on The Fabulous Phil Everly, a tribute site on Instagram. And I finally got the answer as to where Phil was when it was taken. It’s very simple, yet it never occurred to me: Phil took the fucking picture! Oh. My. God. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that. I couldn’t help thinking, “this is why I suck at life.” It’s so obvious now… but where the hell were Jerry Allison and Joe Mauldin?

Chelsea Lee Lewis, 2018

This next picture pushes this blog from borderline “Educational Publication” to “Fan Diary”: My Chelsea taking a cat nap on a 3-CD set of The Very Best of Jerry Lee Lewis by NotNow! Music. Chelsea always had excellent taste in music and she wasn’t afraid to show it. I have pictures of her napping with not only Jerry Lee Lewis, but The Everly Brothers and Carl Perkins, too. I think she just liked the size of the CD cases: a Chelsea-sized pillow. But I like to pretend it was more than that.

I could post more pictures, I guess. Perhaps one of Jerry Lee playing piano with his foot, or one with Myra, or one of him getting arrested… but that wouldn’t be any fun. If you really want fun, play some of his music on whatever you use to listen to music… Just put on Jerry Lee Lewis and I guarantee you’ll be having fun in no time.

Mr. Lewis performed right up into his 80’s. I thought about trying to get tickets to see him in California in 2018, but the venue was a 4-hour drive from me, and just not doable. I kind of wish I tried harder, because right after that tour, Mr. Lewis had a stroke and did not return to touring. I think seeing him in person would have been amazing, but honestly, I greatly prefer listening to his phenomenal music from the original recordings made in the fabulous 1950’s. 

What’s my favorite Jerry Lee Lewis song? I thought you’d never ask. I guess it would have to be “Whole Lotta Shakin’”, but a specific extended version of it where the music is just epic. It’s Rockabilly at it’s finest and the raw talent of Mr. Lewis shines through in every note. 

Jerry Lee Lewis had the kind of God-given talent that you just can’t teach. He and his peers might be gone from this Earth, but they will always be immortal legends.

Jerry Lee Lewis was one-fourth of the famous “Million Dollar Quartet” with Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in December, 1956.

Disclaimer: Public images including all photos and all media on this site are used in the fair use context. I do not claim ownership of any such material. No copyright infringement is intended. The original owners retain all copyrights.