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In the 1950’s two sons of the South changed musical
history. One would be called king, but
both called down lightening from the stage leaving behind a world marked by
fire. Their names, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, have a place in
history. The pop idols of the day will
be forgotten after the fifteen minutes of fame allotted by Andy Warhol while
the truly gifted avoid obscurity; their brilliance, often burning far too quickly,
keeps their memory alive. Another very
talented son of the South, Rick Bragg, is the right man to tell their stories. He gets it.
Jerry Lee Lewis comes alive on the page! When that ten year old white boy with the
shock of golden hair stood in front of a crowd and bellowed out for the first
time “Wine spo-de-odie” you can hear
it, you can feel the raw power, the destiny, because Rick Bragg makes you see Jerry
Lee Lewis in all his tangled up, crazy wild, exuberance. The music claimed the boy, owned the man. That
the kid survived long enough to create a sound all his own and rock the music
world is a miracle. The Killer was a
hair raiser from a young age! Thank God somebody didn’t lock that kid up in a
reformatory and put him on strong drugs!
The world would have lost so much music! His life had ups and downs. The intersection between man and woman caused
some trouble; he was a wild thing, not meant to be tamed. For a generation, my generation, this was the
music. Jerry Lee would strut onto the
stage, toss that mane of golden hair, and let loose! Oh my, that boy could play the piano! Rick
Bragg does the man justice. From his
crazy wild bridge climbing youth to his days of glory, his fall from grace, and
his fierce determination, his need, to bring his music to the people, Bragg
paints him true. The references to other
influences in music (country, soul, blues, and jazz) are fascinating. Rick Bragg did just fine by Jerry
Lee Lewis. I am glad the Killer
is alive to read his story, I think he will be pleased.
A larger than life biography of Jerry Lee Lewis could
only be told by the best southern writer: Rick Bragg. Who else is better suited
to showcase the crazy and unbelievable life of rock and roll’s bad boy? From a depression-era beginning Lewis was a
musical prodigy at a very early age.
Growing up with conflicting affinities for the rock and roll lifestyle
and his deeply religious upbringing, Jerry Lee swung back and forth between the
two worlds until he became a musical legend.
He lived his life of drugs, booze and women to the fullest, going from
controversial marriages to the loss of loved ones, extreme ups and downs in his
career but always living his life on his own terms. Bragg has written one of the best musician
biographies, capturing the fire and sadness of Lewis’s life.
New York Times Bestseller
The greatest Southern storyteller of our time, New York Times bestselling author Rick Bragg, tracks down the greatest rock and roller of all time, Jerry Lee Lewis—and gets his own story, from the source, for the very first time.
A monumental figure on the American landscape, Jerry Lee Lewis spent his childhood raising hell in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi; galvanized the world with hit records like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” that gave rock and roll its devil’s edge; caused riots and boycotts with his incendiary performances; nearly scuttled his career by marrying his thirteen-year-old second cousin—his third wife of seven; ran a decades-long marathon of drugs, drinking, and women; nearly met his maker, twice; suffered the deaths of two sons and two wives, and the indignity of an IRS raid that left him with nothing but the broken-down piano he started with; performed with everyone from Elvis Presley to Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen to Kid Rock—and survived it all to be hailed as “one of the most creative and important figures in American popular culture and a paradigm of the Southern experience.”
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story is the Killer’s life as he lived it, and as he shared it over two years with our greatest bard of Southern life: Rick Bragg. Rich with Lewis’s own words, framed by Bragg’s richly atmospheric narrative, , this is the last great untold rock-and-roll story, come to life on the page.
About the Author
Rick Bragg is the author of a trilogy of bestselling books on the people of the American South. He is a professor of writing at the University of Alabama.
[Jerry Lee Lewis] is quite simply one of the best books about rock and roll ever...Rick Bragg has turned it into literature, fitting in somewhere between William Faulkner and Jim Thompson.
— Vintage Guitar Magazine
“Mesmerizing . . . IRick Bragg illuminates Jerry Lee Lewis’s controversial—but brilliant—life and career in this captivating biography.”
“There’s plenty of richness in Rick Bragg’s retelling of the Killer’s life . . . .Bragg, a former reporter for the New York Times, hits all the legendary moments, both high and low . . . Worth reading.”
— Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
“It’s Jerry Lee Lewis’s unrepentant outrageousness that makes his life and this book irresistible.”
— Wall Street Journal
“One of the best rock biographies ever. Lewis has had his fingers in nearly every piece of the 20th century’s popular-music pie, and so Bragg’s biography becomes not just the history of the man but a history of modern American music.”
— Shelf Awareness
Lewis has found the ideal biographer in Alabaman Rick Bragg, an author and former New York Times writer who understands the texture and cadence of Lewis’ life that started in Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana near the Mississippi River.
— Associated Press
“An enthralling look at the birth of rock & roll and the ensuing life of its arguably most colorful exponent.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“No writer is better suited than Rick Bragg to tell Lewis’s story. The result is a biography with the memorable language and narrative drive we expect only from the finest novels . . . the best book on rock and roll I have ever read.”
— Ron Rash, author of Serena
“An iconic rocker receives a warm, admiring biography from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author . . . Throughout, Bragg displays his characteristic frisky prose . . . From a skilled storyteller comes this entertaining, sympathetic story of a life flaring with fire, shuddering with shakin’.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“I loved every amphetamine-laced, whiskey-soaked, gun-shot page of it.
— Ann Patchett
“An epic life deserves an epic narrative, and Pulitzer Prize winner Bragg delivers such with this major work on rock and roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.
— Library Journal
“[Bragg] hits upon a perfect mix of humor and gravitas, never trying to over-explain or rationalize the adultery, divorces, pills, booze, guns and relentless arrogance that came to define Jerry Lee Lewis as much as the music and the hellfire showmanship did.”
— Dallas Morning News
“This is epic Southern storytelling at its most gripping.”
— Chicago Tribune
“This is Lewis’ version of his own story, filtered through Bragg’s gift for language and his feel for the South...His Own Story casts one of rock n’ roll’s outlandish lives in a new light, giving Lewis the voice in words that he always had in the notes.”
— USA Today, four star review
“This biography is a brilliant piece of work. Make no mistake: Not only is Rick Bragg the right man for this job, with blue-collar empathy in the marrow of his bones, he is the only writer who could have done it.”
— Tuscaloosa News
“Bragg’s account does not pull punches, nor does it need to. Bragg successfully grasps the meaning of Jerry Lee Lewis and the music he begat.”
— All About Jazz