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YouTube Gold: Jerry Lee Lewis In His Prime

An amazing level of energy here

Photo of 119 Lewis Jerry Lee
Jerry Lee Lewis, circa 1957
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jerry Lee Lewis has never been an easy man to like or even understand.

One of the great early rock and roll musicians, Lewis played piano with an extraordinary energy as you’ll see in this video. It’s a manic, unbridled energy that you rarely see anywhere.

They call him the Killer because no one ever wanted to follow him on stage. He was wild in a way you could be in the 1950s but never after, at least not in the same way.

There was a story from a tour in England where he was told Chuck Berry would follow him and close the show. Lewis said, “nobody follows the Killer” but that was how they wanted it so he went on as scheduled.

It may be an apocryphal story but Lewis supposedly lit his piano on fire and played it as it burned.

Chuck Berry was supposedly booed off the stage.

Nobody follows the Killer.

Lewis was flying high until 1958 when the world learned that he had married a 13-year-old. And not just any 13-year-old but his own cousin, once removed.

It understandably wrecked his career for years.

He later became a country star before moving back into rock and roll after years had gone by.

Elvis has been dead for decades, Chuck Berry is gone, Bo Diddley too, as are Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and all the early stars. Now 85, whatever you think of him, he is, as one of his later albums was titled, The Last Man Standing.

Nobody follows the Killer.