Jerry Lee Lewis earned his title as one of the original purveyors of classic rock ‘n’ roll thanks to a performance style that is equal parts raucous and borderline spiritual fervor, and of course classics like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
He has two songs in the Grammy Hall of Fame (“Great Balls of Fire” in 1998, and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” in 1999), and was one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s inaugural inductees in 1986. He’s also the only living member of the “Million-Dollar Quartet,” which included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.
But along the way, he’s also earned enough country music accolades to rival many a Nashville superstar.
He’s earned 17 Top 10 country albums, as well as six No. 1 country hits and 30 Top 10 country songs.
Or, as Toby Keith put it more succinctly for the crowd during a taping for an episode of Skyville Live, “He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He ought to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Even country songs such as John Michael Montgomery’s “I Love the Way You Love Me,” and Tim McGraw’s “Southern Voice” reference Lewis’ work. Looking for another way to measure Lewis’ influence on generations of country artists? Consider the lineup for this upcoming episode of Skyville Live on CMT: George Strait, Toby Keith, Chris Stapleton, Kris Kristofferson, and Lee Ann Womack all joined to pay homage to Lewis, as did Waylon Payne (who portrayed Lewis in the 2005 film Walk The Line), and superb vocalists the McCrary Sisters.
Skyville Live: Jerry Lee Lewis airs on CMT on April 13 at 10 p.m.
“King George” Strait performed Lewis’ 1957 classic “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Middle Age Crazy.”
“Jerry Lee, it was an honor doing those two songs for you,” he told Lewis, who was sitting at a table in the audience, close to the stage.
Keith performed Lewis hits including “Thirty Nine and Holding” and “Chantilly Lace.” Womack offered an illustrious take on “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous” and “She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye.” Payne offered “Who Will the Next Fool Be.” Stapleton and the McCrary Sisters offered a soulful version of “Where He Leads Me,” a track featured on Lewis’
At the end of the evening, Lewis joined the other artists on stage as he sat behind the piano and led the entire room in a singalong of “Whole Lotta Shakin.’”
Ever the consummate entertainer, Lewis told the audience, “That was some of the best music I ever heard in my life.”