LINDA GAIL LEWISLinda Gail Lewis and brother Jerry Lee grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana along with cousins Jimmy Swaggart (controversial, but world-renowned evangelist) and Mickey Gilley (legendary singer/songwriter). Most of their colorful, but poverty stricken childhood was spent in their home town church built by members of the family. Their first musical experiences were right there at "Ferriday First Assembly of God" where Jerry and Linda sang, moving toward what would be their life long career in music. I've been in the music business my whole life, " says Linda. "I went into Sun recording studio (Memphis) with my brother for the first time when I was 12 years old and went out on the road with him when I was 14." The impressionable Linda Gail idolized her brother and he returned her love with big brotherly concern. "He protected me when we were out on the road. He wouldn't even let anyone cuss in front of me."
Her internationally successful adult life is a far cry from what her rural tender years provided. During her school years, Linda Gail was sort of a loner, only winning the superficial affection of her peers by way of the money that Jerry always made sure that she had. "During recess I was the only kid who had money to buy refreshments, so it was the only time that the kids liked to hang around me." Throughout many years of social academic isolation, Linda Gail recalls only being happy when she was with her family. "I didn't have any friends in school. People would whisper things about me when I would walk down the halls as a teen. I remember feeling like I was ugly or that there was something wrong with me. It gave me a complex because I had always been different. After a while it got to the point where I just didn't care anymore. If they laughed, I laughed with them."
Never having to solicit attention from the music industry, Linda's earlier years were spent along side of Jerry. "I had record deals offered to me when I was young, but I was having the time of my life traveling with my brother so I really didn't care if I had a record deal or not. I dedicated my life to my brother. He showed me things on the piano, but I never learned it then because I just didn't see the sense in it. Where was I going to use that on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis? Nobody could play like him on a show like that. Believe me, you wouldn't want to play."
Eventually, Jerry Lee and Linda Gail did in fact join forces in the early 70's creating a duet album entitled, "Together," which launched a top 10 hit with their Mercury/Smash single, "Don't Let Me Cross Over." From there she went on her own to pursue her own dreams and visions in an effort to step out of the shadow of her famed brother. "You know, having name recognition is a two sided-thing," she continues. "It helps you get in the door, but once you're in, you have to blow people's minds or else they will not like you. If I was Jerry Lee's sister, I better be damn good."
To say the least, Linda Gail Lewis grew up in a very unique and unusual family. Although most of her attention came from the rocketing stardom of her brother and cousins, she herself claimed a very astonishing life pattern. Quite obviously a woman who is not afraid of commitment, Linda has been married 8 times and 3 of those marriages were before she was 16 years old. Jerry is the second runner up with 7 marriages under his belt. Through all the twists and turns in her admittedly crazy life, she is a powerful musician and a wonderfully dedicated mother to her four children.
Talking with Jerry Lee Lewis fans she was often asked to write a book describing her life as a sister and cousin to three enormously successful household names. "I remember Bob Hope asking me, 'What was it like growing up with Jerry Lee Lewis?'" These questions and many others fed her need and desire to write the real version of her life and basically tell the truth so that misconceptions of her family can be laid to rest. "I just want people to know the truth and understand us. People don't know the half of us. My family is unusual, but they are very good people and my brother always made sure he took care of us." Linda also states that even though she and her brother are a lot alike, they do see things differently especially when it comes to the public's eye. "Jerry actually feels that he has a right to privacy. He gives terrible interviews and most times won't even talk. The way I see it is, once you are a public figure, you don't have the right to privacy anymore. I mean, my brother, Little Richard, Elvis, and Chuck Berry are all pioneers. There would be no Metallica if it weren't for them. It would still be Patti Page and Rosemary Clooney. They introduced a whole new genre of music and changed the world forever. Fifties music is still alive and well. Back then they were all looked upon as rebels." She feels that Jerry Lee Lewis fans deserve to know all of the facts from everything from his marriage to his 13-year-old second cousin to the countless marital infidelities and history of alleged violence. "The story done on my family was a poor portrayal of the real Jerry. Jerry and I feel that Dennis Quaid did the best he could do, but nobody can justifiably play Jerry because nobody knows him well enough to understand him. I want people to know that Jerry is more than Gomer Pyle in a red suit. I'm just waiting for someone to ask me to help them re-do the real Jerry Lee Lewis story."
The book, THE DEVIL, ME AND JERRY LEE, will make its readers break into laughter and family members break out into a sweat due to its racy chapter titles including, "Even Evangelists Get Horny" and candid recollections. Eight years in the making, it is a clear and honest look into one of the most legendary and scandalous families in rock & roll history. It is the first true story told by the woman who lived it and it clears up a lot of discrepancies we all may have read and seen in the movie and book, GREAT BALLS OF FIRE. "This book is funny and entertaining. Even if you are not a big fan of rock & roll, you'll like this book," enthuses Linda Gail.
"THE DEVIL, ME, AND JERRY LEE"
by LINDA GAIL LEWIS
your $20 you get 166 pages of tales from Linda Gail Lewis, younger
sister of the legendary Jerry Lee. The stories go from Mamie and Elmo
Lewis' early days in Ferriday, Louisiana to Linda's home in Big Sandy, (why
hasn't someone used that for a performing name, oops they have!)
LINDA GAIL SPEAKS WITH THE ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME
Music Row, Nashville, TN with Bob Timmers (Feb. 8th, 1998)
Bob greeted Linda Gail and her daughter Annie and gave them a copy of the RAB HOF volume 1 and 2 CDs. She was surprised to realize that she personally knows many the veteran performers that appear on both discs. When Bob handed a copy of the DiMaggio Bros. CD to Linda Gail, she flipped, "I know these guys! They're from Italy, right? We played with them in France a couple of years ago. They were great! Please say hello to them for me."