In honor of The One And Only Jerry Lee Lewis who, believe it or not, just turned 82 (!!) we take a little trip back. Sixty years back to be exact, to an unassuming little building at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee where something called “Great Balls Of Fire” has just been brought, red hot, into the Sun Records Recording Studio.
Our cast of esteemed characters:
J. M. Van Eaton (drums)
Billy Lee Riley (guitar)
J. W. Brown (bass) (and, is about to become Jerry Lee’s father-in-law!)
Sam C. Phillips (producer extraordinaire)
not to mention Jerry Lee Lewis (pumping piano)
Jerry Lee Lewis: H-E-L-L.
Sam C. Phillips: I don’t believe it.
J. W. Brown: Great Godamighty, great balls of fire!
Billy Lee Riley: THAT’S RIGHT!
JLL: That’s it, that’s it. That’s it!
SCP: I don’t believe it.
JLL: It says, it says MAKE MERRY with the joy of God, only! But when it comes to worldly music, rock ‘n’ roll –
BLR: ROCK IT OUT!
JLL: – anything like that, you have done brought yourself into the world, and you’re in the world, and you hadn’t come from out of the world, and you’re still a sinner. You’re a sinner – and unless you be saved – and borned again – and be made as a little child and walk before God – and be holy, and brother, I mean you got to be so pure! And no sin shall enter there: No sin! For it says, no sin! It don’t say just a little bit, it says, NO SIN SHALL ENTER THERE – brother, not one little bit! You got to walk and talk with God to go to Heaven. You’ve got to be so good.
SCP: All right.
BLR: You’re right.
SCP: Now look, Jerry. Religious conviction doesn’t mean anything resembling extremism. All right. You mean to tell me that you’re gonna take the Bible, that you’re gonna take God’s word, and that you’re gonna revolutionize the whole universe? Now listen! Jesus Christ was sent here by God Almighty.
SCP: Did He convict, did He save, all of the people in the world?
JLL: No, but he tried to.
SCP: He sure did. NOW, WAIT JUST A MINUTE. Jesus Christ came into this world. He tolerated man. He didn’t preach from one pulpit. He went around, and did good.
JLL: That’s right! He preached everywhere!
JLL: He preached on land!
SCP: Everywhere! That’s right! That’s right!
JLL: He preached on the water!
SCP: That’s right, that’s exactly right! Now –
JLL: And then He done everything! He healed!
SCP: Now, now – here’s – here’s the difference –
JLL: Are you followin’ those that heal? Like Jesus Christ did?
SCP: What do you mean, I, I, what –
JLL: Well, it’s happening every day!
SCP: What do you mean?
JLL: The blind had eyes opened.
SCP: Jerry –
JLL: The lame are made to walk.
SCP: Jesus Christ –
JLL: The crippled are made to walk.
SCP: Jesus Christ, in my opinion, is just as real today –
J. M. Van Eaton: Let’s cut it.
SCP: – as He was when He came into this world.
JLL: Right, right, you’re so right you don’t know what you’re sayin’.
SCP: Now, then! I will say, I will say more so –
JMV: It’s very commercial…
BLR: Let’s cut it.
SCP: You see, you see –
JVE: We’ll cut it ourselves!
SCP: No, we’ll be with you in a minute.
JWB: It’ll sell. It’s very commercial.
SCP: But look. Now, listen. I’m tellin’ you outta my heart. And I have studied the Bible, a little bit –
JLL: Well, I have too.
SCP: And I have studied it through and through and through and through and Jerry, Jerry, when you, listen, when you think that you can’t, can’t do good, if you’re a rock ‘n’ roll exponent –
JLL: You can do good, Mr. Phillips, don’t get me wrong –
SCP: Now wait a minute, wait a minute, now when I say do good –
JLL: YOU CAN HAVE A KIND HEART!
SCP: I don’t mean, I don’t mean just –
JLL: You can help people!
SCP: YOU CAN SAVE SOULS!
JLL: No – NO! No, no!
JLL: How can the, how can the Devil save souls? What are you talkin’ about?
SCP: Listen, listen –
JLL: Man, I got the Devil in me! If I didn’t have I’d be a Christian!
SCP: Well, you may have him –
JLL: JESUS! Heal this man! He cast the Devil out, the Devil says, Where can I go? He says, Can I go into this swine? He says, Yeah, go into him. Didn’t he go into him?
SCP: Jerry. The point I’m tryin’ to make is – if you believe what you’re sayin’ – you got no alternative whatsoever – out of – LISTEN! – out of –
JLL: Mr. Phillips! I don’t care, it ain’t what you believe, it’s what’s written in the Bible!
SCP: Well, wait a minute, what you believe –
JLL: It’s what’s there, Mr. Phillips.
SCP: No, no.
JLL: It ain’t what you believe, it’s just what I –
SCP: No, by gosh, if it’s not what you believe, then how do you interpret the Bible!
BLR: Man alive –
SCP: Huh? How do you interpret the Bible if it’s not what you believe?!!
And THAT’S how rock ‘n’ roll records – real rock ‘n’ roll records – are made.
Happy Birthday, Jerry Lee. From Ball Busters everywhere.