Read Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosches Free Online

Ebook Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosches read! Book Title: Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story
The author of the book: Nick Tosches
Date of issue: April 22nd 1998
ISBN: 0802135668
ISBN 13: 9780802135667
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.52 MB
Edition: Grove Press

Read full description of the books Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story:

Why the hell aren’t these guys dead? Look at this :

Fats Domino – hits 1955-59 – 87 years old, still goin strong
Chuck Berry – hits 1955-61- 88 years old, still goin strong
Little Richard – hits 1955-58 - 82 years old, still goin strong
Jerry Lee Lewis – hits 1956-7 - 79 years old, still goin strong

Four of the original wild rockers. They took it all, drank it all, shagged it all, tore it all down and lived to a remarkable old age! Now surely that wasn’t in the script? It just ain’t rock and roll. Having read the story of Jerry Lee Lewis I have a new respect for the durability of the human body. The shit you can do to yourself and live! Keith Richards didn’t invent it. But, er… don’t try this at home kids.

Oh, and they all had similar very brief and pretty unremarkable chart success, in spite of how their names ring out down the years.

Fats : 9 top ten US hits, only one in the UK
Chuck : 5 top ten US hits, 3 in the UK
Little Richard : 4 top ten US hits, 5 in the UK
Jerry Lee : 3 top ten hits, same in the UK

Compare that pitiful record with any successful act from today – lets pluck Rihanna from the many we could name – and we find that so far she has had 19 top ten hits. Soon she’ll have racked up more by herself than Chuck, Fats, Little Richard & Jerry Lee combined.
Well, sometimes success is influence, and that can’t be measured.


Nick Tosches gives us a propulsive story of the usual sorrowful mess that uneducated people make out of the blowtorch success and consequent clifftop plunges intrinsic to the life of the popular musician. A couple of features impinge themselves over the hubbub of whiskey drowning, spousal abuse and near-perpetual derangement.
As is well known, Jerry Lee scored two big hits in a row – Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On and Great Balls of Fire – then just as he could have been the white rocker to take over from Elvis as Elvis was schlepped off to the army in Germany, scandal wrecked his career & he was stopped dead in his tracks.

Turns out that this was an interesting case of culture clash. What was normal in Louisiana, what good Christian folk thought was just ordinary high-spirited living of life, gave first Britain and then the rest of America a screaming morality fit. It went like this. Jerry was invited to Britain in 1958 for a wild rockin’ tour. First question from the journalists was : Who’s the girl? This is my wife, says Jerry. How old are you?? was the next question. She said “I’m 15”. After a couple of transatlantic phone calls the journalists found out that little Myra wasn’t 15, she was 13. And she was Jerry Lee’s third wife. Another couple of calls discovered that he may have married this’n when he wasn’t quite un-married from t’other’n. So the tabloid press went to town on Jerry Lee and the audiences couldn’t take it either. It was too much like great balls of paedophilia, but down in Louisiana, shoot, most gals got married pretty young. Nobody thought nothing about it. What they making such a fuss about? Lotsa guys get divorced. And lotsa guys marry 13 year olds, don’t they?
Well, Jerry Lee had to wait 7 or 8 years after that to get back into any kind of success, which was as a country singer. That lasted a few years before he upended everything a second time.

The other thing was that every so often Nick Tosches suddenly drops into this weird, outrageous manner of phraseology which just has to be quoted to be believed :

On marital discord:

She caressed Jerry Lee and soon told him she was pregnant. He told her that it was no seed of his that had rendered her so. They lifted their hands in anger anew.

On Jerry and his fans:

And he shut his mouth and pounded the piano, and as he pounded it he saw that women were pressed against the stage, their ripe, cinctured breasts heaving synchronously with his pounding. He saw that their mouths were more open than closed, and that stray curls were stuck to their foreheads with dripping sweat: and he saw jealousy in the young redneck faces of the Arkansas boys. He pounded faster and harder, his fingers talons of ravishing puissance, and he felt the rush of neon gas shoot from his lungs and he saw those girls, quivering and wet, following him to hell with their painted mouths open.


He paused, let his eyes sweep across the eyes of the girls. He could smell the serpent that slithered among their narrow ankles, and he could smell the odor of their oblation. He howled. He left the stage as a godlike man, and he drank from the weaker vessel and cast it to the ground, and then went south to Dallas.

On rock and roll:

It inspires boys to reinvent themselves as flaming new creatures and to seek detumescence without ruth.

On Myra:

The sight and scent of her drove Jerry Lee wild, and his mind was like a tremulously held knife at the knot of her intact virginity.


This book was published in 1982 when Jerry Lee has just recently buried his second son and shot his drummer. All of his possessions had been seized by the IRS and he was again looking at a void of horror. He was 47 years old. He had at least another 33 years to live. As I finished this book I was glad I didn’t have to read about them. A thoroughly unpleasant individual but an excellent bio. 3.5 stars.

ps - unpleasant? A little harsh?

"How did you react to Elvis Presley's death?" the man from the country music magazine asked him.
"I was glad. Just another one outa the way."

Jerry Lee and his new bride Myra, 1958

Read Ebooks by Nick Tosches

Read information about the author

Ebook Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story read Online! Nick Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised by wolves from the other side. Through nepotism he became a barroom porter at the age of fourteen. Casting this career to the wind in his quest for creative fulfillment, he became a paste-up artist for the Lovable Underwear Company in New York City. On January 12, 1972, he went to lunch and never came back, drifting south to Florida, where, among other things, he worked as a snake-hunter for the Miami Serpentarium. After being bit on the shin one morning, he decided to forsake all further employment, and thus became a writer of poetry and prose.

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