In early 1964, The Beatles held the Top Five singles in the US Chart. People like Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis toured the UK and Europe trying to maintain their careers. At this time I saw Jerry Lee at the unlikely venue of the Orrell Park Ballroom in Liverpool. I say unlikely because earlier in the Sixties I saw him perform at much bigger venues such as the Liverpool Empire and The Tower Ballroom in New Brighton. I had been to the OPB many times before, as I was a fan of The Undertakers and The Big Three who played there regularly. On this tour Jerry Lee was backed by The Nashville Teens who were neither from Nashville nor teenagers! However they were a good band who had a couple of hit singles in 'Tobacco Road' and 'Google Eye.' They did their set and were well received by the audience. Then it was time for 'The Killer' to play. Jerry Lee walked on dressed in a roll neck sweater and black trousers and cowboy boots. He looked around at the audience, hitched up his trousers, ran a comb through his blond hair and sat down at the piano. A large security man stood close to him and he warned the audience not to rush the stage as Jerry was 'such a great artist that he might walk off!' 'Down the line' was the first number and the audience cheered and swayed from side to side in front of the stage. The Teens accompanied Jerry Lee's piano with lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. Someone asked the bass player to turn it down so we could hear the piano, but he shook his head. Maybe Jerry liked to hear the bass! Other songs performed that night to perfection to my ears, included 'You win again', 'Money (that's what I want)', 'Great Balls of fire' and 'Whole lotta shakin' going on.' Jerry's latest single 'I'm on fire' was also performed, but that sounded like a parody of real rock'n'roll to me, and it marked the end of his 'Sun Records' at the time. I wish I had photos of the show, but the flash bulbs of the time were unreliable and it wasn't the done thing to 'flash' at shows in the UK, though in the USA everyone seemed to do it. At the end of the show, we waited around for a while but Jerry Lee didn't come out to see his fans, so we went home and played his records. The tour continued across the UK and then went over to Europe, to the famous 'Star Club' in Hamburg, where The Beatles and so many other bands honed their craft. The live recording there by 'The Killer' has been recognised as a highlight of his long career. I find it exhausting to listen to as the energy in every song seems to build and build into a rock'n'roll frenzy. Today I am still a huge fan of Jerry Lee and I play some keyboard myself. In 2004 I met Jerry Lee's sister Linda Gail Lewis at BBC Radio Merseyside and she is also a great piano player, having had her famous brother to teach her! I recently bought some CDs featuring twenty unreleased Sun tracks by Jerry Lee and every one is worth a listen as he puts his own stamp on the songs. If you were there that night in 1964, I think you would agree that it was something to remember as I do some forty odd years on......



By Briant Briant

This story was added on 25th July 2011

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