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The Celebrity Archaeology Podcast

May 12, 2018

Goodness gracious, Great Balls of Fire! The cover art for this episode: It's the piano man and the piano man photographed in 1977. Billy Joel with Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee Lewis There is plenty to say about Jerry Lee Lewis "The Killer" who broke ground during the early days of rock 'n roll. He turned the piano into a rock 'n roll instrument for the first time and entertained while playing with his foot on the keyboard. Chuck Berry refused to perform onstage with him after he set his piano on fire. "I want to see you follow that, Chuck!" he reportedly said to him at the time. Early life Jerry Lee was born in Ferriday, Louisiana. He married for the first time at age 17. He tied the knot a second time before the 1st divorce was final. But it was his third shocking marriage that would land him on front pages all over the world. Soon after signing the Sun Records contract, Jerry married Myra Gale Brown-the 13 year-old daughter of his cousin-which made her his first cousin once removed. No one accepted this arrangement on either side of the pond and it was almost the end of his career. His records were banned from the radio and Dick Clark dropped him from appearing on his TV show. All would be forgiven and forgotten when in 1986 he was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. The making of a star Jerry Lee was signed to a five year record contract with Sam Phillip's Sun Records label from Memphis. He was part of a group that was referred to as "The Million Dollar Quartet." Although they did not perform together, the quartet consisting of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis was legendary in churning out hit after hit in a new genre called "Rock 'n Roll." He got his first break on Steve Allen's Plymouth TV show in 1957 when he performed "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Later, Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" would turn out to be one of the world's best-selling singles of all time.  Mysterious deaths Lewis would end up marrying for a seventh time. But mysterious deaths of two wives and tragedies of two of his children would haunt him. He has been married to wife number seven, Judith, since 2012. The father of six children, Jerry Lee lost his son Steven Allen Lewis at age three after a swimming pool drowning. Another son, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jr. died at age 19 when his Jeep overturned. Lewis's fourth wife also drowned in a swimming pool accident weeks before their divorce became final. And wife number five died mysteriously after only 77 days of marriage. Jerry Lee was never charged in any of these incidents. Personal problems Jerry Lee got into deep financial problems with the IRS and also sought treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic for pill addiction. Quote:

“I ain’t no goody-goody,” he said.. "And I ain’t no phoney. I never pretended to be anything, and anything I ever did, I did it wide-open as a case knife. I’ve lived my life to the fullest and I had a good time doin’ it. And I ain’t never wanted to be no teddy bear.”
Billy Joel The Bronx-born, Levittown, NY - raised Billy Joel was the reluctant rock star.  “I don’t look like a rock-and-roll star,” he told Details. “I look like the guy who delivers the pizza.” Piano became his life after he was introduced to it as an early age by his classical pianist father. By the age of 16, he had performed in three bands before he got his driver's license. And at age 16, he played piano on The Shangra-La's recording of "The Leader of the Pack." Billy's first solo album titled "Cold Spring" was not the hit he was planning on. So he packed up and moved to L.A. and became a lounge pianist. It was this job that would inspire his famous song "Piano Man." The Hit Maker Billy's list of memorable songs include such favorites as "We Didn't Start The Fire," "Uptown Girl," "Levittown," "New York State of Mind," and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." In 1999, Billy was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received a Kennedy Center Honor. “I never wanted to be an oldies act, but I suppose I am,” he said. “I never wanted to be a nostalgia act, but I suppose I am. But I listen to Beethoven, and that’s really old stuff. Is that nostalgia? To me, that music is as alive as it ever was.” Wives: Billy has been married four times. He divorced his first wife, Elizabeth Weber in 1982. She had been the wife of the drummer in his band. In 1982, the diminutive Billy married leggy supermodel Christie Brinkley. Their marriage would produce daughter Alexa Ray (named after the musician Ray Charles). His third wife was celebrity chef and TV personality Katie Lee. They had a 32 year age difference between them.Finally, in 2015, Billy married Alexis Roderick. They have two children together-daughters Della Rose and Remy Ann. Personal Problems behind him Billy has been open about rehab for alcoholism in the past. His biography revealed that he survived two suicide attempts, but these days, he is well and rockin' with the greats, his grand piano in tow, filling large venues with his rabid fans.