“Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!” Jerry Lee Lewis to Play at Rochester International Jazz Festival June 9th Tickets on Sale Friday March 9

March 6, 2007

PREVIEW!! See Lewis March 7, 2007 at 8 p.m. on WXXI TV in Rochester -- Great Performances presents Jerry Lee Lewis: Last Man Standing. See www.wxxi.org for more information.

Rochester NY—March 6, 2007 – Jerry Lee Lewis, an American music legend and pioneer of piano rock, will perform at the Rochester International Jazz Festival Saturday June 9 at 8 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre.

Tickets for Jerry Lee Lewis and The Killer Band go on sale Friday March 9 at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster locations, 585-232-1900, www.ticketmaster.com and www.rochesterjazz.com. Tickets are $80, $65 and $49 plus service charge. Tickets may also be purchased at Ticket Express, 885 E Main St, (585) 222-5000, where the service charge is $1 per ticket.

The Rochester International Jazz Festival’s (RIJF) Sixth Edition will be held Friday June 8 through Saturday June 16, 2007. The entire artist lineup, schedule and venues for the Festival including the Club Pass Series, Senator Jim Alesi Eastman Theatre series, and free concerts on outdoor stages will be announced April 5, 2007.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Lewis, 71, was born to the poor family of Elmo and Mamie Lewis in Ferriday, Louisiana, and began playing piano in his youth with his two cousins, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart. His parents mortgaged their farm to buy him a piano. Influenced by a piano-playing older cousin Carl McVoy, the radio, and the sounds from the black juke joint across the tracks, Haney's Big House, Lewis developed his own style mixing rhythm and blues, boogie woogie, gospel, and country music, as well as ideas from established "country boogie" pianists like recording artists Moon Mullican and Merrill Moore. Soon he was playing professionally.

Leaving religious music behind so far as performing, he paid dues at clubs in and around Ferriday and Natchez, Mississippi. He became a part of the burgeoning new rock and roll sound, cutting his first demo recording in 1954. He made a trip to Nashville around 1955 where he played clubs and attempted to drum up interest, but was turned down by the Grand Ole Opry as he had been at the Louisiana Hayride country stage and radio show in Shreveport.

Two years later, at Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee, producer and engineer Jack Clement discovered and recorded Lewis for the Sun label while owner Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Florida. He became a session musician playing piano for Sun artists like Billy Lee Riley and Carl Perkins. As his own career came on the upswing, hits "Great Balls of Fire" soon followed, and would become his biggest hit.

Lewis, though not the first pianist in that style, was a pioneer of Piano rock, not only through his sound but also through his dynamic performance. He would often kick the piano bench out of the way to play standing, rake his hands up and down the keyboard for dramatic accent, and even sit down on the instrument. His frenetic performance style can be seen in films such as High School Confidential (he sang the title song from the back of a flatbed truck), and Jamboree. He has been called "rock & roll's first great wild man and also rock & roll's first great eclectic."

His most current album, Last Man Standing Live was released today, March 6.

Festival News, Merchandise & Photos

For the latest festival news, official merchandise and photos from previous festivals, visit www.rochesterjazz.com and be sure to sign up for email news.


City of Rochester, Heluva Good Quality Foods, Senator Jim Alesi, Monroe County, the Democrat and Chronicle, Eastman School of Music and Crowne Plaza Hotel, DownBeat, Max of Eastman Place and SUNY Brockport.

About the Rochester International Jazz Festival (RIJF)

RIJF has become one of nation’s largest and fastest growing music festivals, drawing fans from all across the U.S. and around the world to hear legendary Grammy award-winning artists and critically-acclaimed jazz and contemporary groups. The 2006 Festival drew a record crowd of 80,000 people.

RIJF is presented by Heluva Good Quality Foods and produced by John Nugent, founder, Co-Producer and Artistic Director, and Marc Iacona, Co-Producer and Executive Director. Nugent and Iacona also produce the PAETEC Jazz Festival premiering August 9-11, 2007 in Baltimore MD. Nugent also produces the Stockholm Jazz Festival, which just celebrated its 23rd successful year. Nugent, a noted tenor sax player, has traveled the world with many jazz artists including Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Clark Terry, The Woody Herman Orchestra and The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Iacona, a Rochester native, business and community leader, avid trumpeter and supporter of the arts, is President of Simcona Electronics.