100 Greatest Singers
Jerry Lee Lewis
September 29th, 1935
Key Tracks "Great Balls of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Breathless"
Influenced Elton John, Kid Rock, John Fogerty
Few artists have attacked singing with the ferocity of Jerry Lee Lewis, a key combustible element in the rock & roll Big Bang of the Fifties. Just as he percussively hammered the keyboard of his piano, the Killer could transform his voice exclusively into a rhythm instrument, often tearing at his lyrics until the words become staccato nonsense syllables and he sounds like one of the faithful speaking in tongues. "It was evangelical," Steve Van Zandt says of Lewis' singing. Lewis moved effortlessly from shouting rockabilly to pure, classic country, scoring eight Number One hits on the country-singles chart. "He mystifies me, he's so good," says Art Garfunkel. "He's having a great time. He's rhythmically united with the piano, and the groove is sublime. He leaves you speechless."