FERRIDAY, LOUISIANA (WLBT) -The signature piano rift that starts or is inserted in many of his performances is probably more of an autography for Jerry Lee Lewis than his actual signature. Matter of fact, it probably IS his signature, musically at least, for sure.
And then to get to see the piano on which it was worked out and perfected is sort of like getting to see Ansel Adam’s favorite camera or Norman Rockwell’s easel.
I’ve been here before, about 15 years ago. Miz Jo and I were in Natchez speaking one night and the next morning, a friend told us about this place and we called, and Frankie Jean Lewis invited us over and took us through.
The house was a shrine to Jerry Lee at that time. But now that Frankie Jean has passed away, her daughters have turned it into just as much a shrine to their mother as it is to Jerry Lee and to the Lewis family, including Jerry Lee’s sister, Linda Gail who is successful in the music business, also.
But a side note; during the period of time when Jerry Lee was exploring a calling to the ministry, Linda Gail was his musical partner, at least for one revival in Ferriday. By the way, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart is a cousin of Jerry Lee’s.
I think there are more family pictures out now than there were then. I could pick out the parents. Perhaps a grand parent, I don’t know.
There are so many family stories that it was hard to keep up with who was a wife and who was a sister. There have been a number of tragic death’s in Jerry Lee’s family. His son born in 1959 died in the family swimming pool when he was just three years old. And you discover that celebrity or not, life for Jerry Lee Lewis has been pretty much as tough or tougher than is has been for the rest of us.
So under the music, if you listen between the lines you can hear the song of trying to live life playing out under all the bright colors and piano riffs.