How do I select the one human trait inspires me the most? I am going to select three, because they all inspire me and these are being good, being gracious and being grateful. In 1957, Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer wrote the song ‘Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire’ which was recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis the same year. In October 1957, Lewis and Sam Phillips from Sun Studio argued about whether or not Jerry could bring himself to record the song, because it is filled with sexual innuendos like “let me love you like a lover should”, which was shocking for a southern musician in 1957, and the title was considered to be blasphemous, as fire often refers to the Holy Spirit. Jerry made peace with this song and it went on to become his signature tune, and a perfect fit for his incendiary style of rock and roll.
Lewis originally thought the song was devil music and he felt this song was sinful. His mother was a devout born-again Christian and he was always tormented about what was going to happen to him on judgement day. Lewis almost became a preacher and he always thanks God for the talent he was given. He knew that rock was not the devil’s music, but he always considered the rock lifestyle to be ungodly. He is 85 years old now and on his seventh marriage. Jerry Lee got the nickname of “the Killer” because of the way he knocked out his audiences.
During the Fifties, the Killer, who never opens for anybody, and was supposed to be the star of this show was made to go on before Chuck Berry at the famous Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, New York. Lewis was ticked off that fellow musician Chuck Berry was chosen to close the night’s show out due to quirky clauses in his contract. While Lewis was the more successful performer at the time, Berry got to finish out the night’s talent showcase simply due to a technicality.
Jerry Lee decided to take it to the next level, as the crowd was howling with excitement, police had to keep them at bay and stop them from climbing on stage. The thrill and adrenaline only fueled Lewis to keep going and he jumped right into ‘Great Balls of Fire’. He doused the open piano with gasoline which he had contained in a Coke bottle, and threw a match into the whole mess before continuing to sing his heart out. He climaxed this scorching performance by pounding the keys while the piano ablaze in flames. The audience loved it and he walked off stage and told Berry, “I want to see you follow that, Chuck.”
The video below is from the movie Great Balls of Fire where Dennis Quaid played rockabilly pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.
I am not sure if I did this right, but I wrote this for Sadje’s Sunday Poser #26.