• Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

  • By: Rick Bragg
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 15 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (236 ratings)

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Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story  By  cover art

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

By: Rick Bragg
Narrated by: John Pruden
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Publisher's Summary

The greatest Southern storyteller of our time, New York Times best-selling author Rick Bragg, tracks down the greatest rock and roller of all time, Jerry Lee Lewis - and gets his own story, from the source, for the very first time.

A monumental figure on the American landscape, Jerry Lee Lewis spent his childhood raising hell in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi; galvanized the world with hit records like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire", that gave rock and roll its devil’s edge; caused riots and boycotts with his incendiary performances; nearly scuttled his career by marrying his 13-year-old second cousin - his third wife of seven; ran a decades-long marathon of drugs, drinking, and women; nearly met his maker, twice; suffered the deaths of two sons and two wives, and the indignity of an IRS raid that left him with nothing but the broken-down piano he started with; performed with everyone from Elvis Presley to Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen to Kid Rock - and survived it all to be hailed as "one of the most creative and important figures in American popular culture and a paradigm of the Southern experience."

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story is the Killer’s life as he lived it, and as he shared it over two years with our greatest bard of Southern life: Rick Bragg. Rich with Lewis' own words, framed by Bragg’s richly atmospheric narrative, this is the last great untold rock-and-roll story, come to life on the page.

©2014 Pont Neuf, Inc. (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

What listeners say about Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Unsparing Portrait of a Southern Kinsman

When I was a child, I used to pretend I was Jerry Lee Lewis and would blast his music next to the piano. I couldn't play like him but it was fun to imagine. That's what comes to mind when I think of the great Jerry Lee. Just looking at the cover of this book gives an impression of a rebel who couldn't care less of what you or I thought of him.

The fiery pianist is known for his hard living and tumultuous personal life. With his fans rolling down the highway with their windows down and their elbows sticking out listening to the euphoric beats of a new age.

This book reflects on the life that he lived, and that his mama and daddy lived - clawing their way to some existence and hoping that Jerry Lee's talent would carry them. Bragg gets Lewis to relive some really awful things, hilarious things, and other things I thought were awful that turned out to be hilarious.It's a little bit what I imagined riding one of those mechanical bucking bulls would be like drunk, with one arm tied behind your back. It was interesting. Jerry Lee Lewis feeling his way back down through the past is like blindly going through a hallway lined with razor blades.

His whole a torture chamber of his own making. If Jerry Lee Lewis lived in hell, he will look you right in the eye and tell you he lived in a worldly hell of his own making.The most difficult thing was that often a story would end in a very Southern Gothic way. He buried a lot of people that he cared about, that he loved. If you live to be 80 years old, then you're going to bury a lot of people. But he buried people that went far too soon. Two sons just to begin with. That was the first thing. There is tragedy and there is tragedy as Jerry Lee Lewis. But not one time did he lie there and really feel sorry for himself that I can recall.

Lewis recalls the cruelty of the Great Depression, his daddy climbing into the rafters to beat to death a writhing knot of rattlesnakes that had been lifted there by the flood waters.He talks about playing the piano and wearing the ivory off the keys, literally, in the Pentecostal church. One of the most interesting topics was about Sun Records and making Elvis cry.

Jerry Lee's adventure was so real, it was something that lived with him and never left. There are very few dull moments in this book, very few where I think I looked at my watch.

Overall: The writing is excellent. I'm now a Rick Bragg fan. Narration was pretty good, lots of different character voices to go with the moments. I highly recommend for any music fan who want's to see the rocky road to stardom...and tragedy too.

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19 people found this helpful

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Can't listen anymore!

Really looked forward to this book but had to stop after the first few hours. The narrative advances at a snail's pace as the author continually drifts off describing non-essential bits of social color. In other words, what you could describe in 2 or 3 lines instead goes on for paragraph after paragraph. Make your point and move on! Where was the editor on this one? Good narration, great story, just can't listen to 15 minutes of drivel waiting for the next tidbit of information. A "must miss" in my opinion.

6 people found this helpful

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interesting story, irritating arrogance

Obviously he's a musical prodigy and knows a lot of people, but it sounded like name-dropping all the people he's better than. It gets annoying and I struggled to finish it,listened to it at 1.20 speed.

4 people found this helpful

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the absolute best biography I've ever read

story is incredible. written with sheer genius. I'll probably find another book by this author it's that well written. anyone from Memphis should have this book. anyone who loves music should have this book, anyone who has even heard the name of Jerry Lee should have this. I was a fan before but now a mega fan. worth every second and worth twice the $$$$$.

3 people found this helpful

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Well worth your time

Well, but I knew it would be. The writer, in my opinion is one of the best contemporary writers out there. The subject being Jerry Lee Lewis makes a fascinating combination of "one of a kind" personality with an excellent researcher and writer.

2 people found this helpful

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Near perfection

Would you listen to Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story again? Why?

Yes, for sure and would buy the book too.

Any additional comments?

The only thing missing in this book is the music itself. But with the ease of Google and YouTube it was only a few seconds before we could see and hear what we had imagined along the narration. Totally mesmerizing all around. Great narration and Jerry Lee and Rick Bass both ROCK!

2 people found this helpful

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Very interesting….

I think Rick Bragg could write anything and I’d at least give it a try.
Growing up in the days when JLL was really, REALLY big, I wasn’t a fan of his overall. I’ve always been a settled type of person, and the wild man wasn’t my type. I did dance to his music, though… the Twist was our big things when I was in high school.
The story is very interesting… learning that he’s basically pretty much an autodidact when it comes to the piano was interesting.
I wonder if in today’s era if he would be diagnosed as ADD or on the autism scale… and if that diagnosis would be good or bad for him… or for the music world.
Anyway… I found it interesting- I even stopped listening at times and went to
My music site and listened to some of the songs. Oh, my, goodness…. The memories!!

1 person found this helpful

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Great book.

The narrator was kinda dry but the story overcame it. I think you’ll enjoy it.

1 person found this helpful

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FUN book with so much history

I expected to hear a lot about Jerry Lee's "fun" in his younger days & I was not disappointed. I knew this book would be entertaining & it was. Great history & stories involved with his family & music & life in general. I love hearing these stories directly from the horse's mouth so they are honest.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting story

A n interesting look at an amazing musical entertainer. I had the opportunity to appear on the same show with him a couple of times and he was very kind to an unknown artist. He certainly was in a class by himself!

1 person found this helpful