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Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

Narrated by: John Pruden
Length: 15 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (160 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The greatest Southern storyteller of our time, New York Times best-selling 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 13-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' 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.

©2014 Pont Neuf, Inc. (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Unsparing Portrait of a Southern Kinsman

When I was a child, I used to pretend I was Jerry Lee Lewis and would blast his music next to the piano. I couldn't play like him but it was fun to imagine. That's what comes to mind when I think of the great Jerry Lee. Just looking at the cover of this book gives an impression of a rebel who couldn't care less of what you or I thought of him.

The fiery pianist is known for his hard living and tumultuous personal life. With his fans rolling down the highway with their windows down and their elbows sticking out listening to the euphoric beats of a new age.

This book reflects on the life that he lived, and that his mama and daddy lived - clawing their way to some existence and hoping that Jerry Lee's talent would carry them. Bragg gets Lewis to relive some really awful things, hilarious things, and other things I thought were awful that turned out to be hilarious.It's a little bit what I imagined riding one of those mechanical bucking bulls would be like drunk, with one arm tied behind your back. It was interesting. Jerry Lee Lewis feeling his way back down through the past is like blindly going through a hallway lined with razor blades.

His whole a torture chamber of his own making. If Jerry Lee Lewis lived in hell, he will look you right in the eye and tell you he lived in a worldly hell of his own making.The most difficult thing was that often a story would end in a very Southern Gothic way. He buried a lot of people that he cared about, that he loved. If you live to be 80 years old, then you're going to bury a lot of people. But he buried people that went far too soon. Two sons just to begin with. That was the first thing. There is tragedy and there is tragedy as Jerry Lee Lewis. But not one time did he lie there and really feel sorry for himself that I can recall.

Lewis recalls the cruelty of the Great Depression, his daddy climbing into the rafters to beat to death a writhing knot of rattlesnakes that had been lifted there by the flood waters.He talks about playing the piano and wearing the ivory off the keys, literally, in the Pentecostal church. One of the most interesting topics was about Sun Records and making Elvis cry.

Jerry Lee's adventure was so real, it was something that lived with him and never left. There are very few dull moments in this book, very few where I think I looked at my watch.

Overall: The writing is excellent. I'm now a Rick Bragg fan. Narration was pretty good, lots of different character voices to go with the moments. I highly recommend for any music fan who want's to see the rocky road to stardom...and tragedy too.

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11 people found this helpful

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Near perfection

Would you listen to Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story again? Why?

Yes, for sure and would buy the book too.

Any additional comments?

The only thing missing in this book is the music itself. But with the ease of Google and YouTube it was only a few seconds before we could see and hear what we had imagined along the narration. Totally mesmerizing all around. Great narration and Jerry Lee and Rick Bass both ROCK!

2 people found this helpful

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Well worth your time

Well, but I knew it would be. The writer, in my opinion is one of the best contemporary writers out there. The subject being Jerry Lee Lewis makes a fascinating combination of "one of a kind" personality with an excellent researcher and writer.

1 person found this helpful

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Can't listen anymore!

Really looked forward to this book but had to stop after the first few hours. The narrative advances at a snail's pace as the author continually drifts off describing non-essential bits of social color. In other words, what you could describe in 2 or 3 lines instead goes on for paragraph after paragraph. Make your point and move on! Where was the editor on this one? Good narration, great story, just can't listen to 15 minutes of drivel waiting for the next tidbit of information. A "must miss" in my opinion.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent unbiased biography

A false bloom is an interesting way to surmise this man's life. It had to be very difficult to write this without expressing opinion. When listening I couldn't say how many times I thought what an idiot this person was and is and how much his ego outweighed his talent. The fact he compares himself to Elvis is laughable, Elvis had a heart, a conscience. Rick Bragg is in my opinion one of the most talented story tellers of our lifetime and if it were not for his writing of this I would not have ever bought it. The narration is good but after hearing the author narrate other works, I'm spoiled. In 50 years from now everyone will know who Elvis was, only some will know who JLL was and even then will be known for how he wasted his talent, his life and caused harm to nearly everyone he ever knew. Perhaps one day before he dies he will come to understand what he threw away and what legacy he left but I doubt it as intelligence is not in his library of traits.

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the absolute best biography I've ever read

story is incredible. written with sheer genius. I'll probably find another book by this author it's that well written. anyone from Memphis should have this book. anyone who loves music should have this book, anyone who has even heard the name of Jerry Lee should have this. I was a fan before but now a mega fan. worth every second and worth twice the $$$$$.

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my favorite singer of all time!

this story was everything I thought it would be plus a whole lot more! really well done, great research too!

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outstandingly real

it is a truth based story of Jerry. It was good to relive the memories of my favorite entertainer. The package

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Great Book!

I hope they make a mini series movie on this book:). I also hope Jerry Lee gets healthy enough to one more tour so I can go see his show. I would love it!

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What a Killer!

I have always heard about his outlandish behavior and his wild music but now I get why he was like that. He was a showmanship way before pyro, lasers, and other gimmicks where invented. He was a Killer on the stage. His life is sad but he always kept a positive look in life. I truly recommend this book whether you are a fan or not. You will fall in love with him.