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When the call came from C&W’s showcase gig, the Killer was hell-bent on leaving an impression

Seated behind his piano on the Grand Ole Opry stage, the wildman of rock’n’roll wasn’t holding back.“Let me tell ya something about Jerry Lee Lewis, ladies and gentlemen,” he announced. “I am a rock and rollin’, country-and-western, rhythm and blues-singin’ motherf***er!” It was a watershed moment in his career, and a dominant display now deeply ingrained in the folklore of the world-famous country institution.

The Opry meant a hell of a lot to Jerry Lee. One of his earliest memories of music was turning the dials on his parents’ old radio and immersing himself in the hourlong soundtrack emanating from country music’s best-known stage. For Lewis, those early broadcasts out of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium planted the seed for his career. So when, in the early 50s, he was unceremoniously turned down by both Louisiana Hayrideand the Opry, and snubbed by the rest of Nashville in general, the young musician must have been hit pretty hard. Let’s not forget, Lewis lovedcountry. Remember his advice to those who opined he should switch to a more rockin’ instrument: “You can take your guitar and ram it up your ass!”

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