For the past couple of years or so, Linda Gail Lewis has been consolidating her reputation on this side of the Atlantic. Already much respected with the rockabilly fraternity, the Louisiana born artist has now broadened her appeal in the general entertainment marketplace.
Linda Gail's new found, ever increasing popularity has been based upon top grossing nationwide tours with Shakin' Stevens and Van Morrison, a best-selling duet album with Morrison, and an outrageous autobiography that knocks the socks off other "kiss and tell" diatribes.
But it's not only the public that has responded enthusiastically to her music. The critics have been singing her praises also, with acclaim coming from such prestigious publications as Rolling Stone and Time Out, Q and Record Collector.
Now she's set to win even more friends and fans with a brand new album
that continues to fashion her own identity as a singer, songwriter and
musician. Appropriately titled "Out
Of The Shadows", it's another step away from the image garnished
by her elder brother, the notorious Jerry Lee Lewis.
Linda Gail Lewis first started making waves in Britain when - following the launch of her highly controversial and much discussed autobiography "The Devil, Me And Jerry Lee" and the release of her self-titled album on Sire - she toured the U.K. and Ireland in the perfect rocking company of Shakin' Stevens. Along the way she made several television appearances and, by the year's end, had struck up an acquaintanceship with Van Morrison, leading on to the duet album "You Win Again" and several months touring together.
But Linda Gail Lewis, in common with her famous brother, has never
shied away from the headlines. It comes with the territory. Just as
noted Nashville journalist Robert K. Oermann had described her autobiography
as "breezy, bemused, irreverent and more than a little racy", so such
words could be similarly to the authoress herself.
Linda Gail and brother Jerry Lee grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana along with cousins Jimmy Swaggart (controversial, but world-renowned evangelist) and Mickey Gilley (country singer/songwriter, who gained a worldwide reputation via the movie "Urban Cowboy"). Most of their colourful, but poverty stricken childhood was spent in their hometown church built by members of the family. Their first musical experiences were right there at "The Ferriday First Assembly of God" where Jerry and Linda sang, moving toward what would be their life long career in music.
"I've been in the music business my whole life," says Linda. "I went into Sun recording studio, in Memphis, with my brother for the first time when I was 12 years old and went out on the road with him when I was 14." The impressionable Linda Gail idolized her brother and he returned her love with big brotherly concern. "He protected me when we were out on the road. He wouldn't even let anyone cuss in front of me."
Her internationally successful adult life is a far cry from what her rural tender years provided. During her school years, Linda Gail was sort of a loner, only winning the superficial affection of her peers by way of the money that Jerry always made sure that she had. "During recess I was the only kid who had money to buy refreshments, so it was the only time kids liked to hang around me." Throughout many years of social academic isolation, Linda Gail recalls only being happy when she was with her family. "I didn't have any friends in school. People would whisper things about me when I would walk down the halls as a teen. I remember feeling like I was ugly or that there was something wrong with me. It gave me a complex because I had always been different. After a while it got to the point where I just didn't care anymore. If they laughed, I laughed with them."
Never having to solicit attention from the music industry, Linda's earlier years were spent alongside Jerry Lee. "I had record deals offered to me when I was young, but I was having the time of my life traveling with my brother so I really didn't care if I had a record deal or not. I dedicated my life to my brother. He showed me things on the piano, but I never learned it then because I just didn't see the sense in it. Where was I going to use that on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis? Nobody could play like him on a show like that. Believe me, you wouldn't want to play."
Eventually, Jerry Lee and Linda Gail did join forces in the early 70's creating a duet album entitled, "Together", which launched a top 10 hit with their Mercury/smash single, Don't Let Me Cross Over, followed a few months later by a revival of Roll Over Beethoven. From there she went out on her own to pursue her own dreams and visions in an effort to step out of the shadow of her famed brother. At that time she scored a solo hit with Smile, Somebody Loves You. She continues: "You know, having name recognition is a two sided-thing, It helps you get in the door, but once you're in, you have to blow people's minds or else they will not like you. If I was Jerry Lee's sister, I better be damn good."
To say the least, Linda Gail Lewis grew up in a very unique and unusual family. Although most of her attention came from the rocketing stardom of her brother and cousins, she herself claimed a very astonishing life pattern. Quite obviously a woman who is not afraid of commitment, Linda has been married 8 times and 3 of those marriages were before she was 16 years old. Jerry is the second runner up with 7 marriages under his belt. Through all the twists and turns in her admittedly crazy life, she is a powerful musician and a wonderfully dedicated mother to her four children.
Talking with Jerry Lee Lewis fans she was often asked to write a book describing her life as a sister and cousin to three enormously successful household names. "I remember Bob Hope asking me, 'What was it like growing up with Jerry Lee Lewis?'" These questions and many others fed her need and desire to write the real version of her life and basically tell the truth so that the misconceptions of her family can be laid to rest. All were revealed in the best-selling "The Devil, Me And Jerry Lee".
"I just wanted people to know the truth and understand us. People don't know the half of us. My family is unusual, but they are very good people and my brother always made sure he took care of us." Linda also states that even though she and her brother are a lot alike, that they do see things differently especially when it comes to the public's eye. "Jerry actually feels that he has a right to privacy. He gives terrible interviews and most times won't even talk. The way I see it is, once you are a public figure, you don't have the right to privacy anymore. I mean, my brother, Little Richard, Elvis, and Chuck Berry were all pioneers. There would be no Metallica if it weren't for them. They introduced a whole new genre of music and changed the world forever. 50's music is still alive and well. Back then they were all looked upon as rebels."
These days, though, Linda Gail Lewis' music is making its own impact. The little sister has now stepped out of the shadows of her big brother and enjoys the enthusiastic support of a public that yearns for more - and the media always eager for a story linked with the Lewis name.