Uillean piper Liam O‘Flynn and hellraiser Jerry Lee Lewis. Also the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra

and the Edinburgh Folk Festival.


Molten oldie

Hell-raisin‘ hopper Jerry Lee Lewis. the quiffofrock'n‘ roll, has an ego as big as the Ritz. While others come and go Jerry goes on forever, drinkin’, winchin‘ and beltin’ out balls of fire. Stuart Bathgate tickles him under the ivories . . .

There are two types ofold rock’n‘ roll star. so the theory goes: those who died in a plane crash in 1958. and those who should have. Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive. But. unlike his contemporaries who have moped off into a muted middle-age. he is also his saving grace still crazy.

Unlike. say. Status Quo. whose modern output i has been sufficientto obscuretheirinitial . dabblings in twee psychedelia. Lewis has done little. ifanything. these past 30 years to alter the original public perception of him as a redneck who played the piano with his feet and married his 13-year-old cousin. While the barrel-scraping compilations of most artists’ obscure or forgotten , recordings invariably come from the earliest years of their careers. such a record. in the case of 1 Jerry Lee. could feature anything from 1960 up to the present.

This obscurity. needless to say. is not entirely down to the man‘s artistic inactivity. Despite the fact that his marriage to cousin Myra was perfectly legal in the Southern state of the US where it was solemnised. the British press at the time (1958) were so scandalised that the resultant furore caused the cancellation of his UK tour. Returning to America. he was received with equal hostility by television. concert promoters and radio stations. Rock'n‘roll was still a big I threat. and the powers-that-be preferred

smirking castrati such as Bobby Vee and Craig Douglas to gnarled and snarlingJerry Lee. Hello ‘Rubber Ball‘: goodbye ‘Great Balls OfFire'.

Lee himselfwas unrepentant: having first been married himselfat the age of 14 (Myra was his third wife). he was bemused by the fuss. ‘What they never did print in the paper back then'. he said recently. ‘is that the day after we got married Myra turnedfourieen. They just kept on talking about her being thirteen.’

The intervening years have seen his name appear in the US Country charts. and. with greater regularity. in scandal-obsessed

newspapers. ‘Another Place. AnotherTime‘ (Bryan Ferry eat your heart out) was a hit in 1968. belated acceptance in this country came with the Sha Na Na-inspired rock‘n‘roll revival ofthe early 1970s. and another Country hit followed with the 1977 ballad. ‘Middle Age Crazy'. More entertaining. however. than any ofhis records of the time was the day in 1976 when he was picked up by the police for waving a shotgun around and demanding entry to Elvis Presley‘s mansion. Gracelands. There never was much love lost between the two.

Lewis‘s Ill-date UK tour. split by concerts in Nice. Stuttgart and Zurich. comes on the back of Great Balls OfFire. the biopic released here last November. The film flopped in the US. and was not terribly tumescent here either. despite a performance ofconsiderable panache from sex goddess Winona Ryder (star of Beet/ejuice and Heathers) as Myra. partnered by Dennis Quaid. himselfa rock ‘n‘ roll enthusiast. as Lewis.

While commercial success clearly eluded director Jim McBride. one claim he can proudly make about Great Balls ()fFire is that. although for a while Quaid insisted on singing the old classics himself. in the end Lewis got into a studio with a band and bashed out new versions with the raw aggression for which he is best remembered. ‘He was just amazing'. McBride recalled. ‘There is only one good reason to be around Jerry Lee, and that is when he is on and really playing‘.

Those who complain that Lewis is an unreliable. cantankerous old bugger miss the point. While other old rockers shuffle offto their charity concerts and aerobics classes. mumbling about the evils of alcohol and how they only ever took drugs once. honest. it‘s reassuring to know that at least one of them is still the wild man he was— though periodically coerced into repenting by his tortured Christian soul and evangelist cousin Jimmy Swaggart. Five wives. 30 years. and crates ofempty Bourbon bottles later. Jerry Lee Lewis. rock ‘n' roll‘s one—man Red Army Faction. still stands tall. No compromise.

Jerry Lee Lewis plays the L’s/zer Ila/l. Edinburgh. on Fri 13.

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and is intended asa celebration ol Scottish culture and a demonstration at the leeling that Scots should control their own destiny. Like The Big Day. it will climax with a concert. in which bands like Runrig and Hue and Cry will be joined onstage by 'traditional Scottish tiddlers and a whole host olothers lrom the great traditions ol jazz and talk. More inlormation as we get it.

there might like to traipse along to Glasgow's Glasgow at The Arches. where The Arches Theatre Company will be pertorming a piece at ‘daytime promenade theatre' at 11am. 2pm and 5pm daily. The script is by polymathic playwright Andrew Dallmeyer. with original music by lormer Bonzo and guru at all English eccentrics. Vivian Stanshall.

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041-221 8787 lor more into. I McEWANS AND TOWER celebrate the end olthelr lirst year at presenting bands and demo discos by adding live band nights on Wednesdays at Minstrels in Glasgow. in addition tothe normal two-band-and- demo-disco nights. which have just moved to Traders in Glasslord Street. Things carry on as usual in Edinburgh's Finsbury Park. and. tar those who teel like straying lurther alield. Manchester.

The List (1— 1‘) April l99()23