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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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“Great Balls of Fire”

“Great Balls of Fire”

Jerry Lee Lewis 1957

Chapter:
(p.89) { 6 } “Great Balls of Fire”
Source:
Feast of Excess
Author(s):

George Cotkin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.003.0008

Sexuality and liberation are written into two songs sung by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1957, Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. This chapter places these songs within the context of early rock and roll, as well tracing its roots to Lewis’s religious background (and his ambivalence about it). It considers Lewis and his music in relation to African American originators of rock. Lewis’s performance style, dripping with sexuality and violence, made him into a key figure of early rock music. But his excesses also led to his downfall in this period.

Keywords:   Jerry Lee Lewis, rock and roll

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