When I was a kid, I loved “Great Balls of Fire” for its piano fireworks and its raucous chorus.
Twenty years later, I still appreciate those aspects. Indeed, this is a barnstormer. But I also have come to admire how Jerry Lee Lewis was a precursor to the punk movement. Certainly, he doesn’t resemble early punk in aesthetics (I don’t remember Sex Pistols smashing out percussive piano riffs or using affected southern accents), but he does in spirit. There’s tempo and aggression to his music, as well as a rejection of societal norms in the name of powerful, kinetic music.
A few punk and/or insane facts about JLL’s life (he’s still alive, by the way! I had assumed he died years ago until I looked him up on Wikipedia):
- He was arrested in 1976 at Graceland for plotting to kill Elvis after he drove there drunk and aggressively threw a full bottle of champagne through the gates (he also had a .38 derringer with him)
- He is known as “The Killer” and “rock’s first wild man”
- He has been married seven times!!!
- His most famous marriage is his third, to his then-thirteen-year-old first cousin. What’s more punk than that?