Re-printed from Maggie’s Blue Suede News

Jerry Lee Lewis, known throughout the rock’n’roll world as “the killer”, has achieved a rockin’ legacy that is rivaled only by that of Elvis. Some would even argue it exceeds that of the man from Tupelo, Mississippi. Thankfully Jerry Lee is still with us, albeit in rather frail health and at an advanced age.

And on 17th August we organised a special tribute evening, dedicated to Jerry Lee Lewis. The venue was the Esse Jazz Café, possibly Moscow’s premier club for rock’n’roll events. The evening began with music and films of the great man, with an introductory speech on Lewis by yours truly. And then, on stage, Russia’s very own “killer”, Denis Mazhukov, put on a storming performance in the style of the Jerry Lee.

Regular readers of this column will know that last month I did a piece on Denis. The article detailed the inspiration Lewis had on him and about how big a name Mazhukov is in Russian rock’n’roll. Denis is known as the Russian “killer” and there was no one more appropriate to perform at this concert in honour of Jerry Lee.

Denis’ performance on stage displayed many of the characteristics of the original Killer: Standing up playing the piano, the hair on his head all over the place, the occasional foot on the piano keyboard, etc. As I mentioned in last month’s article, Mazhukov has his own unique style, but is heavily influenced by Lewis.

So it was a great night on 17th. And hopefully those members of the audience that night who did not know too much before about JLL, became encouraged to find out more about the legend and about rock’n’roll in general.

And to finish, what about the Great Man? From the evidence of the vast majority of people who met Lewis, 2 clear messages come out:

  1. He is a rock’n’roll genius. He is unique, charismatic, colourful and untameable.
  2. He is not a nice man (and that’s without getting into his third marriage to his 13 year old cousin).

In a famous interview he gave in 1993, Freddie “Fingers” Lee, who met Lewis, was asked what he thought of him. His first answer was comprehensive, “a genius, an inspiration, the one and only, etc.” He was then asked what he thought of him as a person. Freddie’s answer was just 2 words, “a s**t”.

Lewis is described as mean, selfish and arrogant by so many who knew or met him. But let’s look at the other side of the coin ………….

The Great Man has given us so much joy and pleasure, both listening to his music and watching him perform. One of my favourite personal memories is going to see him at the London rock’n’roll show in 1972, at the old Wembley stadium. Leading up to the concert, there was talk of his heavy drinking and could he still cut it, etc. Well, dressed all in red he was just terrific on the night, proving to everyone present at the event that the Killer was still the one and only.

So here’s to Jerry Lee Lewis. There will never be another like him. Thanks for the memories Mr Lewis and for the unforgettable music.

Richard Hume