Sunday, August 09, 2015


“Jerry Lee Lewis could’ve been one hell of a preacher. He certainly had the credentials. He came up in the Holiness Church/Assembly of God and attended Bible college in Waxahatchie, Texas, just outside Dallas. . . Thing is, the Killer could be speaking in tongues and it would still sound like lust, and he sure doesn’t leave much to the imagination here. . . .” writes Bill Friskics-Warren in HBTN.

But before Jerry Lee got to that point he was having a crisis of conscience, his Pentecostal background colliding with his desire for another big hit (after “Whole Lotta Shakin’”) and he and Sam Phillips went at one another with some pretty strange logic in the Sun studio, with Billy Lee Riley interjecting cynical “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” into the proceedings. “H-E-L-L!” protests Jerry at the start of their “discussion.” Eventually “you broke my will, but what a thrill” won out, and Jerry and Sam had another hit on their hands (#1 country, #2 pop, #3 R&B). 

Jerry Lee Lewis et al • Great Balls of Fire “religious discussion” • 1957

106.  Great Balls of Fire • Jerry Lee Lewis • 1957

The “discussion” is available on Jerry Lee Lewis: The Complete Sun Recordings, as are a couple takes of “Great Balls of Fire” including today’s single version.

Photo: YouTube

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