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Where: New York City (Taping of PBS TV special "Great Performances" at Sony Studios)
When: September 28 and 29, 2006
Written by: Bill Taylor, Kay Martin and Don Gervasi

On September 28 and 29, 2006 a live show was taped for PBS's television series Great Performances, featuring Jerry Lee Lewis as the main artist. The show will be broadcast in March 2007 and will also be released on DVD.

The band:

Jerry Lee Lewis: vocals and piano
Ken Lovelace: guitar
Jimmy Rip: guitar
Ronnie Wood: guitar (only on September 28)
Nils Lofren: steel guitar and acoustic bass
"Rick the bass player": bass
Jim Keltner: drums
Ivan Neville: organ
Stacey Michelle and Maxayn Lewis: background vocals

The following songs were performed:

September 28:

with Don Henley:
You Win Again (two takes)

with Solomon Burke:
Today I Started Loving You Again (three takes)
Who Will The Next Fool Be (two takes)

with Chris Isaak:
Over The Rainbow (two takes)
Cry (two takes)

with Ronnie Wood:
Trouble In Mind
Rockin' My Life Away

with Norah Jones:
Crazy Arms (two takes)
Your Cheatin' Heart

with Tom Jones:
Green Green Grass Of Home (three takes)
Funny How Time Slips Away
End Of The Road

with Buddy Guy:
Hadacol Boogie
Before the Night Is Over

with Kid Rock:
Honky Tonk Woman
Little Queenie

September 29:

with Willie Nelson:
A Couple More Years (three takes)
I'll Fly Away (two takes)

with Ken Lovelace:
That Lucky Old Sun

with the band:
Roll Over Beethoven
Lewis Boogie
Chantilly Lace
Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave (two takes)
Great Balls Of Fire
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On


Right after the taping on September 28, Kay Martin sent in the following report:

"You will all understand (I hope) that I was having such a GREAT TIME that I didn't take notes. I thought I would remember everything, but some of the song titles have faded from my brain.... Bad news, regardless that I had been told that I could use my digital camera, the director said anyone using a camera would be ejected. Cecil, however, being "family" was allowed to use his little disposable with flash. PBS and the record company had hired photogs who were snapping away like crazy. I was told some of the shots could appear on (hope I remember THAT correctly as I didn't write that down either). The director said that the finished PBS Great Performances special will probably be 90 minutes, but he didn't have an air date yet.

Jerry took 10-15 minute breaks between some of the segments. His voice was terrific. The piano playing was thunderous and savage. He took short sips of water to keep his throat in tune. Jerry stayed in charge of each segment, along with Jimmy Rip. Usually the first run-through of each song was a "rehearsal" and the second "take" was a keeper. I think only one needed to be done a third time because of technical audio problems. I'll get more info later, but here anyway is as much as I recall now:

Ronnie Wood was featured on guitar in each segment. The other musicians on stage were Nils Lofgren, Hutch Hutchinson, Jim Keltner, Jimmy Rip, Kenny Lovelace (sitting down through most of the show), an organ player, a steel guitar player, and two female background singers. I know there was someone else whose name I did not get. I'll try to fill in those blanks tonight.

Don Henley was first. He was on stage when Jerry arrived. Jerry sang "You Win Again" with him and another title.... Solomon Burke, an extremely large man who uses a wheel chair, needed a ramp to get up on stage. He sat in a HUGE wooden armchair next to the piano. The first song was a country number (?), but then they did "Who Will The Next Fool Be." I began doubting whether they could pull it off, because Jerry always told me he couldn't remember the words every time I requested it. Sure enough, he started telling Solomon he didn't remember the words... but between the two of them, it came off beautifully (and Jerry remembered all of it, finally).

A huge thrill to me personally was Chris Isaak, who was next on the show. I've seen Chris perform about 10 times and love him so much. Pairing Chris with Jerry was just so exciting, but doesn't explain why I only remember one song they did. Chris came on the stage while Jerry was on a break and he sang "It Hurt Me So" by himself, just as a kind of warm-up. I was hoping he and Jerry would do "Bonnie B," since this is a staple in Chris's stage performance, but no. They did a song I can't remember right now, and "Over The Rainbow." Chris went over and shook Jerry's hand after that and I just flipped. My two favorite singers in the world today, shaking hands, and me with NO CAMERA! Well, the image is burned in my brain. We remember Jerry sang "Rocking My Life Away" but not sure who else was on it.

After another break, Norah Jones sang "Crazy Arms" and "Your Cheating Heart" with Jerry. She did not play the piano. J.W. was raving about her incredible talent -- he's right! Tom Jones and Jerry had great rapport, having performed together in the past. The first song they did was "Funny How Time Slips Away," a reprise of the duet many years ago on TJ's own show. Then they sang their hit "Green Green Grass of Home." I thought they'd do "It'll Be Me," another of their hits, but instead they did a fine rendition of "End of the Road," one of Jerry's own compositions.

Buddy Guy sang and played his ringing guitar on "Hadacol Boogie," finally one that's on the CD, and "Before The Night is Over," with Buddy playing B.B.'s licks. The last guest was Kid Rock (known to Jerry by his given name, Bobby). For all that's been said critically about him, I have to express that Jerry really likes him. He and Jerry ran through "Honky Tonk Women," another CD cut, with Ron Wood enjoying the romp. They closed with "Little Queenie," and yes, Bobby jumped on the piano. Jerry said that when he did, Jerry was worried that Bobby would break it.

Oh, a word or two about the piano! A grand, specially customed for Jerry with red flames painted on its sides and the "Jerry Lee Lewis" faux signature logo from the CD on the front where you'd usually see the piano maker's logo. FINALLY a piano with which Jerry couldn't find fault -- one commensurate with his talent and one he deserves. I hope after this gig that they send it down to Nesbit for him!

See for another report of this show.


Right after the taping on September 29, Don Gervasi sent in the following report:

"It was Jerry's birthday and Willie Nelson kicked things off by singing "Happy Birthday" to Jerry. Jerry played "Shave and a haircut , two bits" after the song. Then they did duets to "A Couple More Years", "I'll Fly Away" and "Jambalaya". Willie then left the stage and the Killer played and sang a few with Kenny Lovelace and Jimmy Rip and the band. One of the Neville's was playing a keyboard insturment behind Jerry. Jerry did "Lucky Old Sun" (just him and Kenny) and then with the band: "Roll over Beethoven", "Lucille", "Lewis Boogie", "Chantilly Lace", "Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave" and "Great Balls Of Fire".

And then they switched piano stools from the padded stool to a traditional stool. Are you wondering why? We all know why! Jerry did "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", stood up, kicked the piano stool, played awhile standing up and rock and rolled his way off stage like in days of old. This was another great show."




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