Beschreibung und Texte
Linda Gail Lewis is the younger sister of one of music's great performers, Jerry Lee Lewis. After decades of lingering in his shadow, she finally achieved a measure of fame in 2000 with a critically acclaimed album of duets performed with Irish rocker Van Morrison. Living a life every bit as tumultuous as her piano-thumping brother's, Lewis has toured the world repeatedly, married eight times, nearly died from drug overdoses, and has fought the ongoing battle of family-versus-career. In the course of her musical career she has written and sung a variety of music, some good and some comically bad. Her style, which has embraced hard-core honky-tonk music, 1950s rock 'n' roll, and touches of Memphis soul, has made her a favorite in Europe.
Like her brother Jerry Lee, Linda Gail Lewis soaked up the sounds of hillbilly music and rhythm and blues in the rural areas of Ferriday and Black River, Louisiana. Although the Lewis family was poor, they always had enough to eat because of father Elmo Lewis's skill at farming. When Jerry Lee began to score hits with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire" in 1957, he singlehandedly lifted the family from dire poverty to a life of relative ease. "Jerry shared everything he had with us," Linda Gail remarked in a personal interview. "He'd call my mama up and say, 'Mama, I want you and daddy and Frankie Jean and Linda Gail to have everything that I have.' And we did!. I don't know how many people would say that. He meant it too." Linda Gail's chief inspiration was Jerry Lee, but later, as the era of rock 'n' roll came into play, she also tuned into the sounds of Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, and Lavern Baker. Like her famed elder brother, she was married many times, and her first marriages were at ages 14 and 15.
Lewis's official recording debut came when she performed as Jerry Lee's duet partner for Sun Records in 1963, where her defiantly off-key vocals turned their rendition of George Jones's "Seasons Of My Heart" into one of the worst records ever made. "I've gotten a lot of criticism for the vocals I did early on," Linda Gail said in an interview. "I hate to say it was a mistake to do it, because it is a part of history and something I remember in a fond way, but I wish I could've sung that song a little bit better."
As a teenager Lewis joined her brother on the road, playing in numerous tank towns and dives. The near-constant touring provided Lewis with valuable experience and a chance to sharpen her vocal skills, and resulted in a unique opportunity—a steady gig with the road company of ABC-TV's mid-1960s teenfest Shindig. "It was great," remembered Lewis. "Jack Good [Shindig's producer] actually asked for me. My brother didn't have to give them the hard-sell and say 'Would you please have my sister on too?'"
Lewis's first solo release, the ABC-Paramount single "Small Red Diary," sank into obscurity, as did a lone single for Columbia, a remake of LaVern Baker's "Jim Dandy." Meanwhile, Lewis made several duet appearances on her brother's b-sides and albums for Smash records. It was only after Jerry Lee mounted his late-1960s comeback via country music that Lewis was finally able to ride his coattails onto the charts. Recording with her brother, she scored her lone top ten country hit with a version of Carl and Pearl Butler's "Don't Let Me Cross Over." A rousing duet remake of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," a staple of her act, followed it onto the lower chart regions. The Lewis duo's 1969 Smash LP Together featured their rowdy duet style on a variety of country standards and rockers. This led to Lewis's debut solo album for the label, The Two Sides Of Linda Gail Lewis, a hard sung but poor-selling country album. Lewis garnered an ASCAP award for her song "Smile, Somebody Loves You," her only solo top 40 country hit. She was growing artistically, but her label did not seem to notice. "Nobody was really serious about my career," declared Lewis. The best pure country singles of her career, 1970's "Before The Snow Flies," which featured a rare appearance by brother Jerry Lee on rhythm guitar, and 1973's "I Wanna Be a Sensuous Woman," which she debuted on ABC-TV's In Concert, received no meaningful push from the label.
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