In 1968, Jerry Lee Lewis rebounded from a decade of bad press when he scored his first country hit, "Another Place Another Time." The success kicked off a string of 30 Top 10 country successes, including the Number One single "To Make Love Sweeter For You." The 74-year-old legend will return to the genre for the first time in decades this fall with his new album Mean Old Man. Like 2006's Last Man Standing, Mean Old Man finds Lewis teaming up with an iconic lineup that this time includes three Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. "It's unique and very groovy, and I sound great on it!" Lewis tells Rolling Stone.
Keith Richards plays guitar on the Stones' country-tinged classic "Sweet Virginia" while Mick Jagger sings on "Dead Flowers." Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood contributes on "Mean Old Man," a track Kris Kristofferson penned for the disc. Eric Clapton and James Burton provide backup guitars on "You Can Have Her." Ringo Starr and John Mayer appear on "Roll Over Beethoven," while country legends Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson sing on "Swinging Doors" and "Whiskey River," respectively. Kid Rock and Slash show up on "Rockin' My Life Away." Jim Keltner and Steve Bing produced the disc, recording with Lewis in Memphis and L.A. It will be released two ways: as an 18-track deluxe version and a 10-track standard edition on September 7th via Verve/Universal Music.
Lewis was initially a rock & roller with chart-topping Fifties hits like "Great Balls of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shaking Goin On" and "High School Confidential." DJs and record distributors abandoned him in 1958 after the press discovered he'd married his 13-year-old second cousin. When Rolling Stone profiled the piano-burning legend in 2006, he was grateful country fans gave him a second chance.
"My fans never stopped lovin' me," he said. "They always came to my shows. They didn't always get my records, 'cause [Sam Phillips] dropped all his distributors and wouldn't release anything. When I moved on to Mercury records in 1963 and started recording some country, my style of country, and some rock & roll too, one of them songs ['Another Place and Another Time'] sold a million copies right off the press. That tells you something is wrong."