Mississippi music legend Jerry Lee Lewis is set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Announced Tuesday by the Country Music Association (CMA), Lewis will be inducted alongside recording executive Joe Galante and singer-songwriter Keith Whitley.
“This year’s inductees are trailblazers who have each carved their own path in country music,” said CMA CEO Sarah Trahern. “Jerry Lee, Keith and Joe each found their musical calling very early in life and demonstrated a strong and fierce passion for creating music. In very different ways, they all left a lasting impact on the industry and on generations of fans. I am delighted to welcome this deserving class to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lewis, a native of Ferriday, Louisiana who long called Mississippi home after learning from Natchez’s Johnny Littlejohn, is known as one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll. “The Killer”, as he was infamously nicknamed, shot to fame in the late 1950s with songs like “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire”.
In the 1960s, when he moved from Sun Records to Smash Records after a series of high-profile controversies, producers Jerry Kennedy and Eddie Kilroy decided to focus on the Lewis campaign. Music historian Colin Escott described Lewis as “a rock’n’roll who could never get country out of his soul, and a country singer who could never forget rock’n’roll” .
Lewis continued his country successes in the 1970s when he joined Smash’s parent label, Mercury Records and later Elektra Records. Other songs that reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Chart included “Me and Bobby McGee”, “To Make Love Sweeter for You”, “There Must Be More to Love Than This”, and “Would You Take Another Chance on Me”.
The successes didn’t stop there as the 21st century albums of Lewis, Last man standing (2006) and wicked old man (2010), achieved the best sales of his career.
Overall, Lewis has a dozen gold records and four Grammy awards. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience Hall of Fame. And now he’s finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I’m just overwhelmed that they invited me here today,” Lewis, 86, said at an event earlier this week at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, adding that his career has taught him to “be a good person and treat people right.
The trio of Lewis, Galante and Whitley – with Whitley’s widow, Lorrie Morgan, the backup – will be officially inducted at the medal ceremony later this fall.
Country Music Trail Marker Honors Jerry Lee Lewis