One of the pioneers of rock n’ roll, Jerry Lee Lewis doesn’t know why the Country Music Hall of Fame hasn’t recognized his contributions to country music yet.
Lewis is already 81 and he said that when he first came to Nashville from Louisiana, he was advised to play the guitar and not a piano.
“I was trying to get a record out and get my start in the business and they really didn’t any part of rock n’ roll,” Lewis said in an interview in Nashville, where he was being honored by artists such as George Strait, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton and Lee Ann Womack during the live concert series Skyville Live.
Under the guidance of Sam Phillips, he quickly found fame. He played alongside Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash in Memphis. His talent, energy and ego were shown on his early hits like “Great Balls of Fire” and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
However, his career was nearly derailed by a scandal of marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Myra, and he spent several years blacklisted before returning to the country charts in the late 1960s. He had top country singles like “What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me),” ”She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye,” and “To Make Love Sweeter for You.”
Lately, there was a petition that started online to call attention to his exclusion from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Lewis was among the first inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
“I don’t know why I am not in it,” Lewis said. “I mean, they got it stirred up and talking about it. I don’t know why they don’t put me in it. I don’t understand that.”
There is a lot of support for him to be included in the country music most elite group within the Nashville community. Truth be told, many of today’s country stars consider “The Killer” more of a country singer than a rock star.
“You know, I was at the age that I didn’t really know him as a rock ‘n’ roller until I got in the bar and started playing his rock stuff,” Toby Keith said. “But I knew all of his country songs. He’s an incredible country singer.”
As to whether Keith thinks Lewis belongs with country’s historical icons, Keith is positive: “I do. No question. I’d vote for him tomorrow.”
Womack said that Lewis’ contributions to music, no matter the genre, should make him eligible.
“He’s one of the greatest artists that we have ever had the pleasure of having in country music,” Womack said. “That’s my opinion and I am sure that’s most everybody’s opinion. I think anybody that has made that kind of impact deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
For Lewis, he just had to approach music the only way he knew how.
“My style of country music is just me,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t know how to do anyone else’s.”
I really don’t know why sometimes people need to die before they receive the honors that they deserve. I really hope that it’s not the same case for Jerry Lee Lewis. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section below.