Trivia Minute September 29, 2015

185: Jerry Lee Lewis is Born

by Marcus Michelson
Jerry Lee Lewis in the late 1950s.
Jerry Lee Lewis in the late 1950s.

Today is the 80th birthday of musician Jerry Lee Lewis.

Here are some facts you may not have known about the man they call “The Killer.”

Jerry Lee Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana to parents Elmo and Mamie Lewis. His cousins included future country singer Mickey Gilley and TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.

In 1956, he began working for Sun Records as a solo artist and session man. In December of that year, Lewis was was part of a jam session with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash that was recorded by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips and released as the Million-Dollar Quartet in the 1980s.

The next year saw Lewis catapult to stardom with the release of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” which went to No. 2 on the U.S. charts and No. 1 in the UK.

In December of 1957, at the age of 22, Lewis married his third wife, who was also his 13-year-old first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown. Following this revelation, he was blacklisted from the radio and saw his pay for concerts drop from $10,000 a night to $250 a night.

He made a comeback playing country music, first with the album “Another Place, Another Time.” He would have 17 Top 10 country hits between 1968 and 1977.

Jerry Lee Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as the 24th greatest artist of all time.

Our question, who played Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1989 film “Great Balls of Fire”?

Today is International Coffee Day and World Heart Day. In the United States it is unofficially National Veterans of Foreign Wars Day. It’s the birthday of singer/actor Gene Autry, former Polish president Lech Walesa, and actress Madeline Kahn.

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