On this date in 1958 Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis arrived in London’s Heathrow Airport to start his first ever tour in the UK. His young wife, Myra Gale Brown, came with him. This was where the disaster started.
The Killer had been warned by his advisers that he shouldn’t take his new wife, but he didn’t listen. Firstly, Myra was only 13 years old. Secondly, she was his cousin, the daughter of his bassist J.W. Brown. Thirdly, she wash his third wife. Fourthly, their marriage had taken place before the second divorce had been finalised. And for a bonus, Lewis’ second marriage had also taken place before the previous one was terminated.
The great anticipation for one of the first American stars to invade the UK music scene was smashed when British journalist Ray Berry asked a simple question of Myra: “Who are you?”. She replied honestly, saying she was the wife of Lewis. The following question for The Killer himself: “And how old is Myra?” The answer Lewis gave was a lie: “Fifteen.”
Within days the British tour had been cancelled, and within weeks the rising rock star would be appearing for $250 in bars and clubs instead of the $10,000 big shows he’d been playing before the scandal. Radio stations stopped playing his songs.
It took Lewis a decade to rebuild his career. Even though he a handful of rock ‘n’ roll successes, he only began hitting big again when he became a country artist in 1968.
Lewis enjoyed a further rehabilitation of his reputation in the ’80s. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural event in 1986, he instigated the end-of-show jam that remains a mainstay of the ceremony to this day.
Featured image photo by Michael Ochs Archive on Getty Images.
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