His music lives on

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2022

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What it must have been like to hear the gospel and rock phenomenon known as “The Killer” play before he left this world and moved on to the next.

Jerry Lee Lewis, the artist of “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” lived to the ripe age of 87 before he succumbed to double pneumonia last week.  Even if he lived to be more than 100, he still would’ve been gone too soon.

Not many live the scandalous life he had and still bounce back into a flourishing musical career as he did. While some know the scandals, many more know his music thanks to his display of pure, awesome, God-given talent that made him legendary internationally.

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He was in league with Rock and Roll King Elvis Presley, a Mississippian, and played a key part in a great generation of music.

What is awesome to the Miss-Lou community is that many here can say they knew, were related to, or went to church or concerts with Lewis. Soon after his passing, whispers about how so-and-so knew or met Lewis rippled through the community — like how he played at a local charity event or was kicked out of piano lessons for having no self-control.

Whether or not the stories are true, it’s evident that he left a mark, a sound, and a memory of one with an outrageous onstage persona that can’t be erased.

Years from now, others will try to mimic his genius. People from all over the world come to Natchez and Vidalia wondering how they can get to Ferriday because they want to see where The Killer grew up.

A whole lot of fame and talent came from one family on one street, Mississippi Avenue. Today it’s named after the late country music legend and Lewis’s cousin, Mickey Gilley, who died in May at 86 years old. Televangelist, gospel music recording artist, pianist, and Christian author Rev. Jimmy Swaggart also possessed this talent.

Linda Gardner, who previously worked as the director of the state-owned Delta Music Museum in Ferriday, remarked with sorrow that two of the three famous cousins featured in the museum’s hall of fame are gone.

“But we’ll always have their music to remember them by,” she said.