“Stone cold sober? I don't believe in that.”
Jerry Lee Lewis may be most famous for lighting innumerable pianos on fire, leaving a suspiciously long trail of dead bodies in his wake, a botched attempt to assassinate Elvis and almost always being the first person found at the scene of a crime, but these antics don’t even scratch the surface of his amphetamine laced, killin’-it life. By the age of fourteen Lewis was a married man but naturally unfulfilled, so he married another woman and was a bigamist by the age of sixteen. His cousin, Jimmy Swaggart, the scandal-prone televangelist as well known for his whoring as for his religious lessons, probably blessed both unions. As Nick Tosches put it, “Jerry Lee can out-drink, out-dope, out-fight, out-cuss, out-shoot and out-fuck any man alive.
“I was born feet first; I’ve been rocking ever since.”
Whether he was doing kick-flips in his Rolls Royce on a back country turn after killing a couple fifths of Jack and then passing the sobriety test with flying colors, or smuggling illegal drugs in one of his private planes, Jerry Lee always made sure he rolled with the most disreputable entourage and that his vast collection of handguns and automatic rifles were well primed and loaded. For Lewis, tearing apart a hotel room didn’t simply mean breaking some mirrors and spilling red wine on the carpet, it meant unloading the entire clip of a Thompson machine gun while slamming half a fifth of whiskey and then shoving his ascot in the bottle, lighting it in on fire, throwing it against the wall and then walking up to the front desk to complain about the people across the hall.
“Just give me my money and show me where the piano is.”
Lewis was never really bothered by laws, which never applied to him anyways. Despite shooting his bass player in the chest, trying to break into Graceland with a loaded .38, marrying his thirteen year old cousin, and being caught several times with copious amounts of illegal drugs, Lewis never found himself in serious legal trouble. His methods of dealing with the law primarily centered around claiming that he was framed and when that didn’t work he would simply not show up to court, and because the Judge was often his kid sister’s third fiancée’s second cousin once removed, he would usually get off anyways.
“You know, there’s nothing like tearing up a club now and then.”
Jerry Lee Lewis killed it so hard that his nickname was actually the killer and like his father, Elmo Lewis, who probably would have made killin' it in the bathtub if the Feds ever banned it, he didn’t let old age get him down, but continued to mow through women, band mates and trumped up drug charges like shots of Old Crow. Whether he’s having Kris Kristofferson write singles for him, marrying another close relative or lunging across a table while brandishing a half broken bottle of Rye Whiskey with the intent of stabbing an interviewer that asked him the wrong question, Jerry Lee certainly remains on the war path.
Jerry’s friend and no stranger to killin’ it, Waylon Jennings, really sums Lewis up best; “Just don’t get too close to him and you won’t get hurt.”