Tales of Rock – Jerry Lee Lewis

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With a nickname like “The Killer,” rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis was bound to make some waves in his career. And while he certainly did that with wild performances, including the time he set his piano ablaze after becoming incensed at the idea of having to open for Chuck Berry, the biggest scandal of his career happened far from the ivories.

During his 1958 European tour, the British press excoriated Lewis after discovering he’d married his 13-year-old third cousin, Myra Gale Brown, the year before (Lewis was 22 at the time of their marriage). According to Rolling Stone, Lewis attempted to cover up the marriage by telling people Brown was his other cousin, J.W. Brown’s daughter. He also allegedly lied about Brown’s age, but when the truth came out, he became “cocksure and defiant to the point of parading Brown onstage.”

The ensuing media frenzy effectively sapped Lewis’ career, and he spent the next decade descending into drug and alcohol addiction while attempting to rebuild his career by playing at small, local gigs. Meanwhile, Brown was living a life of quiet desperation.

Speaking with The Gwinnett Daily Post, Brown, who has since remarried and now goes by Myra Lewis Williams, described her 13-year marriage to Lewis as “a trial by fire,” “devastating,” and “chaos all the time.” Williams had her first child, a son named Steve Allen, when she was just 14, then a daughter, Phoebe, at 17. Asked what advice she would give to herself looking back, Williams said, “I would tell my young self that life is not always going to be like this. Get through it and it’s going to be better because it was as if I was going to be there forever and it’s never going to change.”




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4 thoughts on “Tales of Rock – Jerry Lee Lewis”

  1. At first, I was under the impression, the uproar was because she was his cousin ( didn’t know she was a 3rd cousin) rather than her age that came into question. It’s not like a first cousin who is pretty immediate. Third cousins are pretty far out there, so it never made sense to me and… in America and other countries, men (in the 50’s) were marrying underage women all the time, (as long as the parents sign off on it, no one said anything) I had a classmate who was married at 14, so what was it really? Why was this so different? I think the real reason was because he was so radical and rebellious for the time. In videos I’ve seen, or saw of him, he looks chaotic and just plain crazy. Her comment pretty much implies that.

    1. You make some interesting points here. I’ve heard I’ve young wives in the south but I think conservative America took a dim view of it at the time. But nobody says anything about Elvis Presley and 14 yr old Lisa Marie… or Bill Wyman and 14 yr old Mandy Smith! Thank you as always Jolie! Happy Easter dear. I’ve got a weeks worth chock full of content coming!

      1. Surprisingly, my 14 year old classmate was in California and later I would meet another young, successful woman no less who had married equally as young. She became a grandmother at 32! Very young. All in California and not the south or southern. These were all in that same time frame as well, so I don’t know what the fuss was about.

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