Live at the Star Club, Hamburg – Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis - Live at the Star Club, Hamburg
– Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Jerry Lee Lewis is an American singer, songwriter and pianist who rose to fame in the 1950s with his energetic and charismatic performances. He is known for his unique style that blends elements of rock and roll, country and blues, as well as for his pioneering contributions to the development of rock music.

Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, in 1935 and grew up playing piano in church. He was heavily influenced by the boogie-woogie pianists of the day and developed a powerful and energetic style that would later become his trademark.

Lewis began his musical career recording for Sun Records, the same label that launched the careers of , and . He quickly found success with his first single, “Crazy Arms”, which topped the country music charts in 1956.

But it was with his second single, “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On”, that Lewis became a true star. The song, with its soaring piano and powerful voice, made him one of the biggest names in rock and roll and established his reputation as an electric and charismatic live performer.

Lewis had a string of hits with songs like “Great Balls of Fire”, “Breathless” and “High School Confidential”. He was known for his aggressive piano playing style and his husky, passionate voice.

However, Lewis' career was marred by personal controversies, including his marriage to his underage cousin and the revelation of his multiple marriages (7 in all). Despite this, he continued to record and tour, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Lee
Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Lee

The album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Jerry Lee Lewis' “Live at the Star Club” album is considered by many to be one of the most incandescent recordings in rock and roll history. Recorded in 1964 in Hamburg, Germany, the album captures Lewis at his best as a live performer, delivering an intense and passionate performance that shows why he became a true music legend.

When the album was recorded, Lewis was at the height of his career, but he had also gone through a tumultuous period on a personal level. He had been involved in several scandals, including his marriage to his underage cousin and the mysterious death of his fourth husband. In addition, his style of music was being superseded by the rise of British rock, and he was increasingly seen as a relic of the past.

However, the recording of ‘Live at the Star Club' proves that Lewis was still an electrifying live performer. The record captures the raw energy and power of rock and roll, with intense performances of songs like “Great Balls of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On” and “High School Confidential”. Lewis' rough and passionate voice is at its best, while his piano playing is incredibly virtuosic and powerful.

Jerry Lee Lewis at the Star Club
Jerry Lee Lewis at the Star Club

The album was produced by legendary music producer , who had discovered Lewis in his early days and produced his first recordings for Sun Records. Phillips was known for his unconventional approach to production, preferring to capture the raw, authentic performances of the artists rather than watering them down with excessive overdubs and arrangements. This approach is clearly evident on “Live at the Star Club”, where the songs are recorded live without artifice or embellishment.

Although the album was not a great commercial success at the time of its release, it has since been re-evaluated and considered a rock and roll masterpiece. It has influenced many later artists, including the Rolling Stones.

Great Balls Of Fire

“Great Balls of Fire” is one of Jerry Lee Lewis' most famous songs and a cornerstone of rock and roll history. The song was recorded in 1957 for Sun Records and became an instant hit, reaching number two on the US pop charts.

The song is emblematic of Lewis's style of music, with its soaring piano and raucous, passionate voice. The song is also known for its distinctive introduction, which begins with Lewis' famous “woo!” cry, followed by a driving piano riff.

“Great Balls of Fire” was written by and Jack Hammer and became a rock and roll anthem of the late 1950s. The song has been covered many times by artists such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and , as well as more recent artists such as and .

The song also became synonymous with Lewis' style of piano playing, which was known for its aggression and intensity. Lewis' piano playing on “Great Balls of Fire” is fast and virtuosic, with quick notes and frenetic energy that captivated listeners around the world.

However, the song was not without controversy. Lewis' suggestive lyrics and sexually charged performance scandalised audiences at the time, leading to bans on radio and television.

Where to listen to Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Useful links for Jerry Lee Lewis