After erroneous reports of his death earlier this week, rock’n’roll pioneer Lewis was confirmed dead at the age of 87 on Friday, dying of natural causes at home in DeSoto County, Mississippi.
During his gig at the Motorpoint Arena that same night, Dylan played a version of ‘I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye’, the song written by Don Robertson and famously covered by Lewis on his ‘A Taste Of Country’ album from 1970.
Introducing the rendition, Dylan said: “I don’t know how many of you know, but Jerry Lee’s gone. We’re gonna play this song, one of his. Jerry Lee will live forever – we all know that.”
Watch the performance below.
Lewis, who rose to prominence in the late 1950s with tracks like ‘Breathless’ and ‘High School Confidential’, was hospitalised in Memphis after suffering a stroke in 2019. While he was forced to cancel some planned appearances, he made a full recovery.
The singer was born in Louisiana and became a session musician in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, eventually playing with the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. Dubbed “The Killer” for his outrageous performances, the rockabilly star recorded 40 studio albums during his career.
Lewis’ career was also marked by controversy. In 1958, while embarking on a UK tour, reporters discovered that Myra Gale Brown, his wife who was travelling with him, was only 13 years old and also his cousin. It was also revealed that he was still married to his second wife at the time of making vows with Brown. After the news spread, his tour was cancelled, and Lewis was blacklisted from the radio.
An NME obituary to Lewis read: “The last of the gang to die was the most contemptible and notorious of his contemporaries. Elvis Presley was The King of Rock’n’roll, Little Richard its King and Queen. And Jerry Lee? He called himself the Killer.
“The flipside of his personality was a string of lamentable controversies that vastly overshadow his legacy.”