Linda Gail Lewis Rocks the Jocks
Modern rock n roll queen Ms Linda Gail Lewis recently added another Celtic country to her growing fandom base when she dazzled audiences at two stunning concerts in the West of Scotland. Brought over by local resident of Girvan, long time family friend and now rock n roll promoter, Des Johnston, she created quite a stir in the local media with local papers, local radio and especially Scotland's largest daily newspaper The Daily Record giving her a huge two page spread. Little wonder that the demands for tickets far exceeded the seating capacity at both venues, Stranraer Rugby Club and the Crosshill Inn.
Four former members of local rockabilly legends the Black Eyed Peas got together again as the Peas to back her and to open both nights. The hard rocking four piece played many crowd pleasing favourites from the greats and a few more obscure numbers for the more discerning punter. Vocals were shared between the guys and they zipped through Rock Around With Olive Vee, Mystery Train,Tear It Up,Somethin' Else and Rockabilly Boogie (which mentioned Memphis' Hernando's Hideaway to Linda Gail's delight). Stand out numbers for me were Pink & Black, Don't, Apache (a fine contrast) and a snatch of Old Shep before ripping into a frantic Hound Dog. Always hard to please a home town crowd but the country folks really did have a jamboree to the Peas Rock N Roll Music. Both nights, the dancing crowds had the boys pumped up to back the star of the evening.
Over two nights she did nearly 60 songs and sold a truck load of her latest cd Lie & Deny ( which is real gem, featuring guitar legend Albert Lee on a few tracks). In Crosshill she was even lead to the stage by a Scottish piper in full rig out,this had the crowd on its feet even before she sang a note. Romping through the appropriate Boogie Woogie Country Girl she hollered to the band ãdon't quit when it's that goodä in an extended opener.
We visited Mr Beethoven, Rattled and Rolled, Miss Mollied, Bopped the Blues and slowed it down with big bro's treatment of Hank's classic, You Win Again. On both nights the country songs, the modern songs from the new album and the roadhouse rockers all went down a proverbial storm. Great to hear a piano stomping version of All Shook Up.The band were working their sporrans off to keep the big beat a flowin' like malt whisky from the local stills. The drummer certainly earned an extra bowl of porridge for supper, particularly in a wild High School Confidential with the great ãmotha-humpin ' bluesä line. Great ad- libs in Shakin about JLL coming home with the first big pay cheque from Sun and a Fleetwood Cadillac for the family!!! Glory Days indeed.
From the new album, we had Irma Thomas' ironic You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don't Mess With My Man, Sun gem Let's Talk About Us, Fat's mid tempo groover, Wait And See, the stellar I Wish This Car Was A Train and Smokey Joe's. Even for us hardened LGLophiles there were surprises, One Night, Where Could I Go But To The Lord, Old Black Joe, Cottonfields, Wild One and a dazzling Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow which had all the men dragged out for some sultry dance floor smooching (she must record this soon). A particularly intense Old Black Joe dragged members of rockabilly band Hi-voltage up on their chairs to holler out the refrain in true Southern style, they probably woke up Stephen Foster in his US grave!!!
A wild Wicked Wanda styled Let's Have A Party, a frantic stuttering R-R-R-R-Rip It Up, we Ducked Back In The Alley and Go Johnny Go'ed all night. The late, and VERY great, Mack Vickery's anthemic Rockin My Life Away sttod out by a country furlong (a very long version which nearly finished me off permanently on the dance floor) and a stunning What'D I Say pts I & 2 with part 2 being word for word the JLL version (from the classic Smash lp By Request live album), heavy breathing and cars parked on dark levees had many elderly gentlefolk loosening collars as this raunchy vixen turned up the heat with devil's music abandon.
Mind you, in true Ferriday tradition we also got some cool country in Jambalaya, Together Again, I Can't Stop Lovin You, Crazy Arms and ,after midnight on the Sunday, Amazing Grace followed by a revival Sun styled When The Saints Go Marching In, that probably had the patron saint of Scotland St Andrew thinking there was a fire n brimstone revival down in the glens of Crosshill! I think the whole village was packed into the place.
Two magnificent nights, hearty congratulations to DJ Promotions (hopefully this will spark off further rocking nights), the willing and able to rock n roll all night Peas and Ms lucious Linda Gail who impressed all with the range of her vocal ability mastering all styles in the family tradition, the stunning hard rocking piano work, the dexterous pr skills at handling an audience and delighting everyone afterwards who wanted to meet her.
People will talk of these dazzling nights in SW Scotland for years to come. She has created a big splash in the land of lochs and the rocking ripples will be felt for many a long day.
Och will ye no' come back again hen?
ps sorry about the rugby scores boyos ;-))
Goodness Gracious! Linda Gail Lewis Wins AgainJerry Lee's Little Sister Gets Career Boost From Van Morrison Duets
(Posted Dec. 21, 2000) By Michael Gray
Though not yet a star in her own right, Linda Gail Lewis has proven she has what it takes to hold her own alongside two of the most talented and notoriously difficult figures in popular music. Barely in her teens when she surfaced in the early 1960s, she first accompanied her older brother, Jerry Lee Lewis. Four decades later, Lewis has given her career new momentum by forming a musical partnership with Van Morrison.
She has recorded on her own, but Lewis built her reputation primarily through her association with her brother. She opened shows and sang backing vocals for "The Killer" on tours throughout most of the '60s and '70s, and the siblings recorded an album of duets, Together, released in 1969, that produced the Top 10 country single "Don't Let Me Cross Over."
In 1987, after a long layoff, Lewis, at age 40, picked up the threads of her career. Stepping out of Jerry Lee's shadow, she dusted off piano-boogie skills she learned from him and set out as a solo artist, performing in Memphis and touring nationally and internationally. She found audiences in Europe especially receptive to her Lewis-family brand of rock 'n' roll and country. The demand for her talents has become so great overseas that Lewis now has a second home in Wales, where she spends more time than she does at her U.S. home in Big Sandy, Tenn.
Lewis' 1991 album, International Affair, issued in France by New Rose, created excitement among European rockabilly fans and her cult following in the U.S. Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau named the import a "pick hit" in one of his monthly "consumer guides." Lewis, he wrote, registered "more twang per syllable than prime Duane Eddy, belting and screeching like a flat-out hillbilly... She's Jerry Lee's sister, wildass before anything else."
Two years ago, Lewis published a rambunctious autobiography, The Devil, Me and Jerry Lee, in which she revealed that she has been married eight times and had a life every bit as colorful as her brother and her famous cousins, TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and country star Mickey Gilley.
But nothing has raised her profile more than Lewis' recent studio and concert collaborations with Irish singer/songwriter Morrison, the incendiary, blue-eyed-soul singer behind pop classics such as "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Moondance" and "Gloria."
Lewis shares billing with Morrison on You Win Again, an album of duets released in October and taking its title from a Hank Williams song. A prolific, sometimes anguished songwriter, Morrison has written his share of haunting and deeply personal epics, but You Win Again is a buoyant collection of covers at the other extreme from his dark, 1968 masterpiece, Astral Weeks.
Morrison contributes one original, "No Way Pedro." The rest of the set is a high-spirited frolic through a baker's dozen of '50s classics by the likes of Williams (covered three times), bluesman John Lee Hooker (with whom Morrison also has collaborated), rock 'n' roll guitar slinger Bo Diddley and, perhaps predictably, Jerry Lee Lewis.
"Van has been wanting to do some stuff with my brother for a long time," says Lewis during a phone interview from her home overseas. "Van has loved my brother's music since he was a boy. They are friends, but Jerry Lee is not real big on going into the studio these days. Van heard what I was doing and he thought 'Well, this is the real thing. I like this.' He felt we could do something good together, but neither one of us knew it was going to turn out the way it did."
Lewis first crossed paths with Morrison in 1993 at a Jerry Lee Lewis convention at the King's Hotel in Newport in South Wales. Earlier this year they shared dinner and a conversation about music, discovering they liked the same kinds of songs. Morrison heard Lewis perform during a sound check before one of her concerts. A week later, Lewis caught Morrison's show in Cardiff, Wales, and they got together for an after-hours jam session.
"I didn't realize I was going to be singing with him," she explains. "He did a couple of blues songs and I played piano for him. We'd been talking about one of my brother's songs we both loved called 'Let's Talk About Us.' It was written by Otis Blackwell, who wrote 'Great Balls of Fire,' but it really wasn't well-known. Van asked if I knew the words, so I wrote them down for him and he asked me to sing it with him."
Lewis breaks out laughing. "Suddenly I was rehearsing duets with Van Morrison," she recalls. "Van kept calling out songs for us to try. It was real informal. Our two voices together were wonderful. I had no problem phrasing with him. It was great, and we were having such a good time. Then we sat down to have tea, and Van picked up his cell phone and said to me, 'Well, are you available next Tuesday?' He called his studio and booked it.
"I was just flabbergasted," Lewis continues. "Still puzzled, I said, 'Are we going to record these songs?' He said, 'Well, yeah,' as if to say, 'Are you crazy ... don't you know?' I didn't think anything would come of the recordings, but I knew I was going to have fun and enjoy my day in the studio with this legend."
They cut nine songs together before Lewis returned to Tennessee, not expecting to hear any more about the project. When she went back to Europe three weeks later, Morrison invited her to his studio for tea and told her he might release their duets as his next album.
"He had another album ready to go, but he said he liked our album better," Lewis explains. "He told me that if we could come up with some more songs, and if our act worked together live, then he would release the album. I was really floored. That is when I became nervous, because I knew I had a shot at something great."
By the time Lewis rejoined Morrison in the studio, any anxiety she felt about the scope of what they were trying to do had disappeared.
"I really couldn't be that nervous with the next bunch of songs that we did," she says. "We did [Bo Diddley's] 'Cadillac,' [Hank Williams'] 'Why Don't You Love Me' -- those songs were so easy for me to sing with him, and they were so much fun to sing with him."
In fact, the recording sessions turned out to be as informal as the circumstances that led to them. The spontaneous performances were cut live and very quickly in the studio, with little or no rehearsal.
"It's unbelievable that things like that can happen today," Lewis says. "Van is doing something for music. It's natural and it's real, as opposed to something that is overdubbed to death and pieced together."
"They both cut their sessions live on the floor and don't do a lot of overdubs," she says. "Neither one of those guys plays with a set list. They go on stage and they call out the songs.
"Well, Van calls them out," Lewis adds with a laugh. "He's a little more cooperative than my brother. Jerry Lee just starts playing and you have to figure out the key and song. They both do spontaneous music. They play for the audience and they figure out the audience as they go along."
"Van the Man" -- as Morrison is known to legions of rock fans -- has parted ways with his regular band for now in favor of working with Lewis' Welsh backup band, the Red Hot Pokers, with whom the duo recorded You Win Again. They have performed across Europe, and Lewis hopes American tour dates are in the offing. She is working on Morrison's next album of original songs, playing piano and singing some backup on the project. She also hopes to record a set of Morrison originals under her own name, with him producing, but he has yet to commit.
In the meantime, Lewis is thankful for the career boost provided by her alliance with the Belfast Cowboy, as Morrison also is known. She enjoys her return to the spotlight and feels grateful that Morrison has shared his talent with her.
"This is a big opportunity, for me to be singing with Van," she acknowledges. "I'm 53 years old, but I'm still learning, and he's taught me one helluva lot. I put him right up there with my brother. They're both geniuses."
LINDA GAIL LEWIS SPOTLIGHT ON UPCOMING TNN DOCUMENTARY SPECIAL "CENTURY OF COUNTRY"
(Posted Jan. 25, 1999) Nashville, TN - Musician, entertainer and author Linda Gail Lewis will be in the spotlight for the "Century Of Country" special, a rockabilly documentary to be aired on TNN in the latter part of March '99'.
These 13-week-long episodes features prominent entertainers who are part of or influenced by the rockabilly/country scene, including Sam Philips, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Brenda Lee, Reba McEntire, Marty Stuart and Dick Clark to name a few. In the special, Linda Gail showcases her trademark style and shares never before seen family photos.
Linda Gail Lewis's spot will delve into the topic of her notoriously famed brother Jerry Lee Lewis and his influence on the music industry as well as her own. Linda Gail Lewis and her music are best known to European audiences, where her career is in full bloom. While Linda Gail's music may be new to America, that will soon change, with several U.S.-based record labels currently courting her. She may be younger sibling to Jerry Lee, but she can definitely play most "under the table". In short, the piano is no stranger to this rockin' little sister!
Linda Gail Lewis and brother Jerry Lee grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana along with cousins Jimmy Swaggart (controversial, but world-renowned evangelist) and Mickey Gilley (legendary singer/songwriter). Most of their colorful, but poverty stricken childhood was spent in their home town church built by members of the family. Their first musical experiences were right there at "Ferriday First Assembly of God" where Jerry and Linda sang, moving toward what would be their life long career in music. I've been in the music business my whole life, " says Linda. "I went into Sun recording studio (Memphis) with my brother for the first time when I was 12 years old and went out on the road with him when I was 14." The impressionable Linda Gail idolized her brother and he returned her love with big brotherly concern. "He protected me when we were out on the road. He wouldn't even let anyone cuss in front of me."
LINDA GAIL LEWIS
Her internationally successful adult life is a far cry from what her rural tender years provided. During her school years, Linda Gail was sort of a loner, only winning the superficial affection of her peers by way of the money that Jerry always made sure that she had. "During recess I was the only kid who had money to buy refreshments, so it was the only time that the kids liked to hang around me." Throughout many years of social academic isolation, Linda Gail recalls only being happy when she was with her family. "I didn't have any friends in school. People would whisper things about me when I would walk down the halls as a teen. I remember feeling like I was ugly or that there was something wrong with me. It gave me a complex because I had always been different. After a while it got to the point where I just didn't care anymore. If they laughed, I laughed with them."
Never having to solicit attention from the music industry, Linda's earlier years were spent along side of Jerry. "I had record deals offered to me when I was young, but I was having the time of my life traveling with my brother so I really didn't care if I had a record deal or not. I dedicated my life to my brother. He showed me things on the piano, but I never learned it then because I just didn't see the sense in it. Where was I going to use that on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis? Nobody could play like him on a show like that. Believe me, you wouldn't want to play."
Eventually, Jerry Lee and Linda Gail did in fact join forces in the early 70's creating a duet album entitled, "Together", which launched a top 10 hit with their Mercury/Smash single, "Don't Let Me Cross Over". From there she went on her own to pursue her own dreams and visions in an effort to step out of the shadow of her famed brother. "You know, having name recognition is a two sided-thing," she continues. "It helps you get in the door, but once you're in, you have to blow people's minds or else they will not like you. If I was Jerry Lee's sister, I better be damn good."
To say the least, Linda Gail Lewis grew up in a very unique and unusual family. Although most of her attention came from the rocketing stardom of her brother and cousins, she herself claimed a very astonishing life pattern. Quite obviously a woman who is not afraid of commitment, Linda has been married 8 times and 3 of those marriages were before she was 16 years old. Jerry is the second runner up with 7 marriages under his belt. Through all the twists and turns in her admittedly crazy life, she is a powerful musician and a wonderfully dedicated mother to her four children.
Talking with Jerry Lee Lewis fans she was often asked to write a book describing her life as a sister and cousin to three enormously successful household names. "I remember Bob Hope asking me, 'What was it like growing up with Jerry Lee lewis?'" These questions and many others fed her need and desire to write the real version of her life and basically tell the truth so that misconceptions of her family can be laid to rest. "I just want people to know the truth and understand us. People don't know the half of us. My family is unusual, but they are very good people and my brother always made sure he took care of us." Linda also states that even though she and her brother are a lot alike, they do see things differently especially when it comes to the public's eye. "Jerry actually feels that he has a right to privacy. He gives terrible interviews and most times won't even talk. The way I see it is, once you are a public figure, you don't have the right to privacy anymore. I mean, my brother, Little Richard, Elvis, and Chuck Berry are all pioneers. There would be no Metallica if it weren't for them. It would still be Patti Page and Rosemary Clooney. They introduced a whole new genre of music and changed the world forever. Fifties music is still alive and well. Back then they were all looked upon as rebels." She feels that Jerry Lee Lewis fans deserve to know all of the facts from everything from his marriage to his 13-year-old second cousin to the countless marital infidelities and history of alleged violence. "The story done on my family was a poor portrayal of the real Jerry. Jerry and I feel that Dennis Quaid did the best he could do, but nobody can justifiably play Jerry because nobody knows him well enough to understand him. I want people to know that Jerry is more than Gomer Pyle in a red suit. I'm just waiting for someone to ask me to help them re-do the real Jerry Lee Lewis story."
The book, THE DEVIL, ME AND JERRY LEE, will make its readers break into laughter and family members break out into a sweat due to its racy chapter titles including, "Even Evangelists Get Horny" and candid recollections. Eight years in the making, it is a clear and honest look into one of the most legendary and scandalous families in rock & roll history. It is the first true story told by the woman who lived it and it clears up a lot of discrepancies we all may have read and seen in the movie and book, GREAT BALLS OF FIRE. "This book is funny and entertaining. Even if you are not a big fan of rock & roll, you'll like this book," enthuses Linda Gail.
The Devil, Me, and Jerry Lee
by LINDA GAIL LEWIS
(with Les Pendleton)
LONGSTREET ISBN 1-56352-526-7 - www.lspress.com
For your $20 you get 166 pages of tales from Linda Gail Lewis, younger sister of the legendary Jerry Lee. The stories go from Mamie and Elmo Lewis' early days in Ferriday Louisiana to Linda's home in Big Sandy (why hasn't someone used that for a performing name, oops they have!) Tennessee.
I've had the pleasure of seeing Linda perform on stage many times, both with her brother and as an excellent solo artist. She is a charming person, full of warmth and compassion. She is also a great and funny story teller, and that is reflected in this annecdotal book. It is a very entertaining read and will amuse you and sadden you in turn. There are some absolutely outrageous stories and comments packed into this brief account.
Fans of Janis Joplin avoid page 79, Connie Smith (hallelujah!) fans avoid page 55, etc. etc. all absolutely hilarious. There's a photo section, though the captions could be more accurate. An index would help, as would a discography (I'll add one to Linda's web page in the future). Linda has had an interesting recording career, on Sun, Smash and Mercury with Jerry (highlight being the 1969 Together lp on Smash, great rockin Roll Over Beethoven duet). Her recent solo career deserves far more attention than given here. Like many Jerry Lee fans I'm baffled withn the current problems surrounding Jerry and his blood relatives. Linda Gail talks it like she walks it here, taking no prisoners and shooting from the hip.
She's a great solo live performer doing the incomprabable Lewis Boogie in the Lewis way. Her many European fans and friends get rightly mentioned. I was delighted to see Wales' best venue the Kings Hotel, Newport get a mention. Linda earned her spurs there in front of the demanding Jerry Lee fans at the great Lewis fan club conventions. Charles DR Rock White, Little Richard and Jerry Lee's biographer was there and would make an ideal future writing partner for Linda. Both she and husband Eddie (who worked for Stax) have enough stories for another book, so get writing guys! Worth buying this just for the gorgeous picture of her on the back cover!
Linda Gail Speaks with theFeb. 8, 1998, Music Row, Nashville, TN with Bob Timmers
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Bob greeted Linda Gail and her daughter Annie and gave them a copy of the RAB HOF volume 1 and 2 CDs. She was surprised to realize that she personally knows many the veteran performers that appear on both discs. When Bob handed a copy of the DiMaggio Bros. CD to Linda Gail, she flipped, "I know these guys! They're from Italy, right? We played with them in France a couple of years ago. They were great! Please say hello to them for me."
LINDA GAIL CONTINUES:
"I've heard so many definitions on what rockabilly really is. Here's what I say. I was born country and raised on rock 'n' roll. I have a country voice, no matter what I do, so when I'm singing rock 'n' roll, that probably 'rockabilly.' Charlie Feathers may have another story. I loved Charlie and he was a friend of mine, but we didn't always see eye to eye, but I had enough respect for him, not to disagree."
"I see you have a page on my brother, and I first time I heard your name, Bob, was through Bob McCarver, Jerry's father-in-law. Even though Amazon.com has my book listed, I'd still like another way to get my book marketed to fans all over the world. So I hope the Rockabilly Hall of Fame can help."
"There's so little real rock 'n' roll left in the world today. People love it, they absolutely love it. I just signed a record deal about three weeks ago, and have some real rockin' tunes on my CD. Some people may say 'that's a little dated, isn't it?' Well, thats a compliment to me. Dated equals 'great.' Dated means 'good.'
"You know what's so different about me, is that I did a little bit of stuff with my brother, but didn't REALLY do anything until I got out on my own in 1987 and 1988. I started playing piano in 1988 and didn't really do anything until later in my life. Actually my sister-in-law did me a big favor because she kicked me out from being with my brother on the road. I had a problem with, meet Annie's dad, settled down, got married and didn't sing for nine years."
"Then I wanted to do it again and got back into it again and went on the road with my brother - that's all I needed to do. That's what I always had done. And it last about a year. At the point my husband divorced me ... it end up I had no husband, no job and then, if that wasn't bad enough, I was blacklisted in most of the clubs so I had to play the real raunchy places, like the Boot Legger.
I played a place call Rugby Corner, and I got a Joel Shumaker, after my brother fired him to play with me there one night. I said, 'What's wrong with you honey?' He said, "The last time I play in this club, I was up here on the bandstand playin' and a guy walked up to another guy there on the dance floor and put a gun up to his head and just blew his brains out. Those were the kinds of places I was working. But then something wonderful came out of that - I learned how to play (piano). I wouldn't trade anything for it - it's the most wonderful thing."
"Let me tell you, if you love the Lord and if you are a Christian and sincere about it, even your enemies, when they are trying to hurt you, will end up helpin' you. So I have to thank Keri, it was wonderful too finally have on own career, even through she might not like to hear it that way."
"You know it's a miracle that I have a record deal. 'Cause they're only signin' young ladies now. My manager a friend of mine, and a fan, he's been a Linda Gail Lewis since since he was about 8-years-old. He spend a lot to get the sessions and video going. We wanted to launch this album in the UK because we have an English producer, Stuart Coleman to help. Stuart is a great producer and a was a big time disc jockey."
"You can't kill '50s rock 'n' roll music, and you know why you can't? It changed the world forever, it changed music forever, it changed us forever and no matter how many newer people come out ... even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones ... even with all that, your gonna go to the movies and stuff your still gonna heard '50s music. My 19-year-old daughter and I listened to old rockin' music on the way in for this interview ... Johnny B. Goode, Whole Lotta Shakin' and stuff like that. We listen to all of it, 'cause she likes some of the music from the '90s, too. If fact when Annie went to that big Memphis concert with Pearl Jam and all the others, her highlight was watching Chuck Berry take to stage. She was dancing in the rain and mud."
Linda Gail Lewis' PHOTO PAGE
THE LEWIS MUSEUM