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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Round 2 in Rock 'n' Roll Legends

There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on among Moscow rock 'n' roll fans as Jerry Lee Lewis follows Chuck Berry in the "Monsters of Rock 'n' Roll" festival with two concerts this weekend at the Rossia concert hall.


Lewis, whose unique style combines country, gospel, boogie-woogie and rock 'n' roll and has enthralled audiences for more than 30 years, was a logical choice in the string of rock 'n' roll legends. His greatest hits, such as "Great Balls of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Breathless" brought him to the top of the charts in the 1950s. His virtuosity with the piano, which he has played since childhood, is his greatest personal trademark.


"He is a wonderful showman," James Burton, Lewis' lead guitarist since 1969, told a press conference Wednesday. "I think you will enjoy the show."


The 61-year-old, nicknamed Killer, was too exhausted after an 18-hour flight to attend a press conference Wednesday, but he is very excited about his first performance in Moscow, his daughter Phoebe said.


"It's beautiful, like nothing we've ever seen before," she said. "We're very excited. None of us have been here before. It will be interesting to see how Russian audiences will be and how much they like rock 'n' roll."


That remains to be seen, as the tickets for Lewis' concert at Rossia concert hall on March 21 and 22 are still selling. The ticket prices, which promoters said started at 150,000 rubles (though those tickets have already sold out), were lower than for Chuck Berry's concert in February, and thus more reasonable, judging by most fans' reactions.


"In our reality, it is of course a little too much," said Olga Audring, 20, a student who said she has loved Lewis since she heard, "Great Balls of Fire," years ago. "However, by the standards of the rest of the world this is quite normal, so we have to submit. After all, this is a spectacle of a lifetime."


Judging by Jerry Lee's fame, and notoriety, a spectacle it should be. It is not only his superior showmanship that sets the Louisiana-born singer apart. The Killer is known for unruly behavior and the many scandals that have marked his musical career. Like many rock 'n' roll stars of his time, he had problems with drugs and alcohol.


His biggest scandal, however, was his marriage to his 14-year-old cousin, Myra, which caused him to be virtually banned from Britain during his tour in 1958. A film, shown recently on Russian television, acquainted the Moscow audience with those details and more.


"It was pretty much factual, though it could have been done better," Phoebe Lewis said. "It's not easy [to be his daughter], but not that difficult. I wouldn't trade my Daddy for anything. He's a crazy man, but he's a good man."


"[The first thing] you learn about Jerry, you never know what he's going to do next," said Kenny Lovelace, who has headed Lewis' group since 1969. "You've got to pay attention. You could turn your head and he has already started a new song. We've never played the same show twice."


However, Lewis' famed unpredictability has not unnerved the concert's organizers, even though they conceded they have no idea what he might ask for in his spare time.


"The Western singers are all unpredictable," one of the promoters said, "but ours are the same. The performer is always right, anyway."





Jerry Lee Lewis performs Friday and Saturday at the Rossia concert hall at 6 Ulitsa Varvarka. Tel. 263-4588. Nearest metro: Kitai-Gorod.