Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

Harper. Oct. 2014. 512p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062078223. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062078230. MUSIC
An epic life deserves an epic narrative, and Pulitzer Prize winner Bragg (All Over but the Shoutin') delivers such with this major work on rock and roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis. Bragg conducted multiple long interviews with the musician, providing the framework for the book, which uses novelistic style and detail while richly describing Lewis's early life in Louisiana and Mississippi, his youthful musical forays, and his meteoric rise to fame in the late 1950s, by way of his own memories and recollections. Bragg chronicles recordings with Sun Records, whirlwind tours, and interactions with music legends as well as a chaotic personal life, problems with drugs and drink, and reckless behavior that early on derailed Lewis's career until a comeback and his eventual ascension to elder rock statesman who here ruminates on the blazing trail that he created.
VERDICT With Lewis's reminiscences and thoughts filtered and examined through Bragg's evocative writing, readers get an original look at an innovator of rock music as well as an examination of a specific time and place during a thrilling and tumultuous period in the cultural history of the late 20th century. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]
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