Jerry Lee Plays 44 Songs in 150 Min.

By Patrick Wall - - Posted Sept. 30, 2002
           At the Convention Jerry Lee came onstage at 9.42pm and he played until 1215am. The Room was very hot and he only took a few sips of water onstage but despite the stifling conditions he played for 2 and a half hours.
           Earlier Jerry had done a show that was totally different to his usual set. This time Jerry knew he was playing to his long time fans, many of whom he knows by name. Fans had come from across the world for this party including several from Australia, Hawaii, all over Europe and from the USA itself.
           Jerry played a total of 44 songs in a stunning show that lasted for two and a half hours. Although he look pale and was slow to walk on stage, his voice and piano playing were as powerful as ever.
           He spoke a lot between numbers and appeared tearful at some points, as songs the fans requested reminded him of happy times that are long gone. He made a lot of very personal remarks about his life and made some searing comments about other Memphis personalities, judges, courts, previous wives, and (as he would say) "a flock of others" all came in for a roasting from the Killer.
           He was casually dressed and to wild applause from the delighted fans he joked "I always go casual when the millionaires come in. Kerrie said I didn't look right but I feel fine - I'm doing alright whatever clothes I am in". 
            The set list was:
Roll Over Beethoven, You Win Again, Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee o Dee, Johnny B Goode with a reprise of a verse of Drinkin' Wine in the middle!, Over The Rainbow, I Am What I Am, Another Place Another Time, CC Rider, Mean Woman Blues, Mexicali Rose, Hows My Ex Treating You, Bobby McGee, Your Cheatin' Heart, Loving Up A Storm, Lewis Boogie, Goldmine In The Sky, Vacation In Heaven, Frankie and Johnny, You're the One Rose that's Left In My Heart, Meatman, She Even Woke Me Up to Say "I Do"!, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Chantilly Lace, What's Made Milwaukee Famous, Before The Night Is Over, You Belong To Me, Sweet Little 16, High School Confidential, and Crazy Arms, He did two duets with with the Scottish Singer, Blondell (who had done an hour long set earlier in the show) on Laudy Miss Claudy, and Hound Dog then it was back to solo the Jerry Lee with "Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave, (a slow version first then a completely separate fast version), Rockin' My Life Away, Wedding Bells, Jericho Road, Mona Lisa, If You've Got The Money Honey I've Got the Time, My Bucket's Got a Hole in It, Green Green Grass of Home, and he ended with Lucille.
           Then he said he was feeling the effect of the heat on stage. Perhaps he had, as he often says "Overshot the runway". After the show Jerry was taken to hospital suffering from heat exhaustion.
           During the entire show Jerry was singing what the audience requested and many long time fans had they particular favourites played. Wim Geeks requested Frankie and Johnnie and Help Me Make It Through The Night, Stephen Ackles got Jerry to do Mona Lisa.
           When I asked went up to the front to request Mean Woman Blues, Jerry told the audience "this guy has been almost everywhere with me in Europe for the last 40 years. Do you still have that small car?" he asked from the stage. This was a reference to me sometimes driving Jerry to shows in my "mini" car all those years ago. Jerry may be 67 years, but his mind is still sharp and he still has a great memory. 
           Mean Woman Blues was of course an Elvis song, but Jerry Lee's version is a far better performance of the song. I've been getting him to do it for 40 years, as many fans rate it as his top number. His piano work on it was as brilliant as ever and at the end he said " I  remember Elvis screeching his car alongside me in Memphis and joking that he was about to sue me as Whole Lotta Shakin' had just knocked Elvis' version of Mean Woman Blues off the top of the charts after he had only been there for one week." 
               I also persuaded Jerry to sing "If You've Got the Money Honey - I've Got the Time. Last time he sung it for me was in private in 1968 and in 1983. Jerry and I both like Lefty's song.
           Jerry Lee's talk between numbers was sometimes very pertinent to the occasion, sometimes funny, often melancholy, sometimes rude, and often completely outrageous. Here are a few quotes from the night:
           After "Vacation in Heaven" he said, "If Sam Phillips is lying on his deathbed in the hospital, that's the kind of tune that would kill anybody."
           On drugs he said "Here is the reason I can't get with it like I want to - I ain't had no dope in a long time. They quit making those blue and yellow pills. They did throw a wrench in Elvis's motorcycle and they sure did mess up Jerry Lee's Deuce."
           On Lisa Marie "She's not the girl I used to know - she seems to be just going from one to another"!
           When a fan requested "How's My Ex Treating You," Jerry replied "Which one of 'em".
           It is a pity that the event ended with Jerry feeling so unwell, but it does reflect his life for the last 47 years since coming to Sun records. Jerry knew all the people at this special birthday party show had traveled thousands of miles to be there and as ever - whether he was playing to an audience of 30 - as he did at Warrington in the UK in sixties - or playing Madison Square Garden - Jerry gave his all and we appreciate it. Let us hope there is good news on Jerry's health soon.
-Graham Knight (webmaster for Kyle Esplin)

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