Month: September 2006

  • The Killer


    On Tuesday afternoon Jerry Lee Lewis sat down at a red baby grand piano at F.Y.E. Records in Rockefeller Center and proceeded to rock and roll. His left hand pumped boogie-woogie chords, his right splashed and jabbed, and his voice easily leaped up to the high notes of “Great Balls of Fire.â€

    He didn’t kick over the piano bench. But in “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On†a commanding glance and a few imperious gestures established the air of joyful menace summed up in his nickname: the Killer. Afterward fans swarmed him, holding up collectors’ item copies of his 1950’s Sun Records singles in hopes of an autograph.

    “I’m not quite as young as I used to be,†Mr. Lewis had said a little earlier. “But I can still play pretty good.â€

    Mr. Lewis, who turns 71 tomorrow, is in New York this week promoting “Last Man Standing†(Artist First), his first studio album in more than a decade. The album is packed with rock-star guests — three Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton — and Mr. Lewis easily dominates them all. Today and tomorrow Mr. Lewis is recording a PBS special with guests including Don Henley and Kid Rock. On Saturday he will be one of the stars at the Farm Aid concert in Camden, N.J.

    People who know Mr. Lewis well are unanimous about him. “He’s a force of nature,†said Jimmy Rip, who produced the album. Mr. Lewis’s daughter Phoebe, who is now his manager, said, “He’s got his way of doing things, and that’s all there is to that.†Hutch Hutchinson, who first joined Mr. Lewis’s band in 1961, said: “Jerry Lee won’t be tamed. He doesn’t answer to anybody, never has. He’ll pull no punches on you. He’ll just tell you what he thinks. And he don’t care if you’ve got 900 trillion dollars or you ain’t got 10 cents.â€

    Even in a white bathrobe and pajamas, walking slowly to sit for an interview in his hotel room before the performance, Mr. Lewis still had the wavy hair and familiar profile of the piano pounder who turned up at Sun Studios in Memphis in 1956 to whoop, snarl and yodel through songs that became cornerstones of rock ’n’ roll. He went on to a career as a country hit maker in the 1960’s and 1970’s but eventually grew disenchanted with a record business that wanted to keep him in the country category.

    Mr. Lewis has been through scandal and sorrow. He married his 13-year-old second cousin, Myra, in 1957 — a choice that derailed his career for a decade — and has had two wives die young, shot a band member in the chest and lost two children in accidents. He has wrecked cars, drunk hard and showed up at the gates of Graceland waving a gun. Last year he divorced his sixth wife. Now he lives in Nesbit, Miss., eight miles from Memphis, sharing a house with Phoebe, and they have dinner regularly with Myra, Phoebe’s mother. He calls other people “Killer†when he’s feeling jovial.

    Genial but guarded at first, Mr. Lewis warmed when he spoke about growing up in Ferriday, La., and hearing the music that he would meld into rock ’n’ roll. He took a few piano lessons. But he got his education by sneaking into Haney’s Big House, a club owned by his uncle, Lee Calhoun.

    In the era of segregation it was an African-American club for blues and rhythm-and-blues, where musicians like B. B. King would perform. “They never knew I slipped in there and set under the table and listened to them play,†Mr. Lewis said. “Haney would catch me in there, take me by the nape of the neck and put me out. He said, ‘Boy, your mama would kill me and your uncle would sure kill me if he found out you were here.’ He said ‘Don’t come back now, Jerry Lee.’ And I would be back there in 30 minutes. I felt like I was crossing a line, I shouldn’t be going there, but nothing could stop me from going unless it would be God.â€

    “My mama wondered, ‘Where you learning them songs at?’ †he added. “ ‘Where’d you learn that song, boy?’ I can hear her now.â€

    He was sent to study at the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Tex., where his music stirred up its first ruckus. “I didn’t graduate,†he said. “I was kind of quit-uated. I was asked to leave for playing ‘My God Is Real’ boogie-woogie style, rock ’n’ roll style. I figured that’s the way it needed to be played.

    “The boy that wanted to sing it, poor old boy, he wanted to sing it real slow and draggy,†Mr. Lewis continued. “I said: ‘Son, you want this song to go over? Or do you want it to be real draggy and drug out?’ He wanted it to go over, and I said, ‘Well, do it this way.’ Doomba, doomba, doomba, doomba, and it went, man. It went over. They didn’t kick him out of Bible school, but they wanted to kick me out. But every kid in the Bible school said, ‘If you kick Jerry Lee Lewis out of this school, then I’m going too.’ The dean came over and said, ‘You see that? You have ruined a great school.’ I said, ‘I haven’t ruined anything.’ I said, ‘Look, let me just take a couple of weeks off, to cool things off, and I’ll be back.’ And he said, ‘That’s a good idea.’ I didn’t go back.â€

    At Sun, he would meld his boogie-woogie piano with a voice steeped in country yodeling and gospel flamboyance to make songs like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,†which many radio stations initially banned. “It was just another song to me,†he said. “I never noticed that it had an effect on anybody that bad. The girls went a little berserk, but that’s girls for you.â€

    Fifty years after his first Sun singles, Mr. Lewis sounds more weathered but no less scrappy on “Last Man Standing.†He was persuaded to make it by the album’s producers, Mr. Rip and by Steve Bing, the film producer and owner of Shangri-La Entertainment, who financed the recording. Lifelong fans of Mr. Lewis’s music, they coaxed him back into the recording studio, first to record songs for an unreleased movie, “Why Men Shouldn’t Marry,†and then to make “Last Man Standing.â€

    The album includes rowdy rock ’n’ roll, piano-stoked country songs and blues. “We tried to pick songs that could almost be chapters out of Jerry Lee’s life,†Mr. Rip said.

    The album has Mr. Lewis and the country patriarch George Jones cackling through an old Western swing song, “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age,†and Eric Clapton wailing a bluesy solo on the blues standard “Trouble in Mind.†Songs like the Hank Williams hit “Lost Highway,†Kris Kristofferson’s “Pilgrim†and the Band’s “Twilight†contemplate age and regret, and in “That Kind of Fool,†Mr. Lewis and Keith Richards sing about a settled life they never had. Meanwhile Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac†and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll†insist that Mr. Lewis doesn’t plan to go quietly. His piano playing roars and crashes through the songs; his voice is knowing and cantankerous.

    In the studio Mr. Rip said: “There were times when he would come in and he barely looked like he could make it to the piano. But the second he did, the piano jumped about two feet from the ground and he was Jerry Lee.â€

    Mr. Rip didn’t set out to make a duets album, he said. But once he had done a few duets, he found it hard to turn down the offers; the album has 21 songs and two dozen guests. Mr. Lewis has completed another album with no guests — though Mr. Rip said he’d make room for Bob Dylan if he became available — and is planning a gospel collection.

    Before his record-store appearance, Mr. Lewis made one more stop: to the offices of Rolling Stone magazine. He was greeted by the magazine’s founder, Jann Wenner, who looked as awestruck as a fan. Mr. Lewis sat at a conference table surrounded by bright-eyed staffers too shy to ask questions. So Mr. Wenner did, asking Mr. Lewis if he was proud his music had such influence.

    Mr. Lewis took in the question, and smiled. “I didn’t know it was going to stir up such a stink,†he said.

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  • US Gov’t – No Parameters.

    Duane “Dog” Chapman

    Our gov’t has hit another all-time low… it has absolutely no morals, no parameters giving up one of our own to a lawless f’n gov’t and country in disarray.

    HONOLULU — Federal assholes arrested bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman and two relatives early Thursday morning at his home on Oahu.

    The arrest involves Chapman’s capture of Max Factor heir Andrew Luster three years ago in Mexico. Luster was wanted in connection with a series of rapes. In other words, some rich asshole paid off some federal marshall somewhere.

    Mexican authorities arrested Chapman, his son Leland and brother Timothy on kidnapping charges. Bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico.

    The high-profile case launched Chapman into celebrity. Chapman now has his own reality TV series on the A&E cable channel.

    Chapman’s publicist, Mona Wood, released a statement to the media on Thursday morning.
    “This is obviously a very upsetting time for the Chapman family. Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman is a true modern-day hero. He arrests the bad guys — he is definitely not one of them. He shall be vindicated,” Wood said in the statement.

    Mexican immigration authorities issued an alert for Chapman and two relatives after they failed to show up in court. The judge released them on bail on the condition they show up every Monday to check in with the court, according to Mexican authorities shortly after Chapman left the country.