June 13, ’89: Jerry Lee Lewis Gets Hollywood Star

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jerry_lee_lewisOne of the originators of rock and roll music alongside his Sun Records labelmate Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis enjoyed some long-overdue vindication when the piano-playing singer and notorious musical wild man both onstage and off received one of the ultimate symbols of American celebrity on June 13, 1989, getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He rocketed to fame on the strength of such hit singles as 1957’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” (#3) and “Great Balls of Fire” (#2) and 1958’s “Breathless” (#7) and “High School Confidential” (#21) until it became known at the start of a 1958 tour of Great Britain that the 22-year-old artist known as “The Killer” had married his 13-year-old cousin Myra Gale.

Related: Lewis and Gale marry in 1957

All but two of the tour dates were canceled. Back in the U.S., Lewis became virtually blacklisted from radio and his bookings plummeted from concerts for thousands of dollars to shows in small clubs for a few hundred bucks. Although there were no more Top 20 pop singles, he later enjoyed a career resurgence as a country artist from 1968 through the ’70s, and in 1986 was an inaugural inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born on Sept. 29, 1935, and after seven marriages, the deaths of two wives and two sons, various arrests, tax troubles and numerous other travails, Lewis still continues to perform and record. His Facebook page lists several 2018 concerts.

Watch a brief clip from the ceremony: “Jerry Lee Lewis is happy to be here in Hollywood, California!”

Related: Along with Dion, Duane Eddy and others, Lewis is featured in our story, First Generation Rockers: Who’s Still With Us?

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