FACTBOX-Eight facts about rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis

(Reuters) – Eight facts about rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, who has died at the age of 87:

* Lewis grew up with his cousins, future country singer Mickey Gilley and evangelist-to-be Jimmy Swaggart, in Ferriday, Louisiana, where Lewis made his performing debut at age 14, singing “Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee” at the opening of an auto dealership in 1949.

* Lewis’s father, Elmo, went to prison twice for bootlegging.

* As a boy, Lewis developed his love of boogie-woogie and blues by sneaking into a Ferriday nightclub that featured the era’s best blues musicians.

* Lewis was expelled after only three months at Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas, reportedly after performing a rowdy version of “My God Is Real” at a church assembly.

* Myra Gale Brown, Lewis’ cousin and the daughter of his bass player at the time, was only 13 in 1957 when she married the singer, who was then 22. She claimed on the marriage license to be 20 and the controversy of their marriage brought Lewis’ career to a halt.

* Lewis ended up in jail in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1976 after he was found brandishing a pistol and demanding to see Elvis Presley outside Presley’s Graceland mansion. Earlier that year Lewis had accidentally shot his bass player.

* Rolling Stone magazine reported in 2006 that Lewis still owned the Starck upright piano that his father bought for him in 1945 after mortgaging the family home to pay for it.

* Lewis’s career got a boost in 1989 when he sang his songs for the movie “Great Balls of Fire!” in which Dennis Quaid portrayed him while Winona Ryder played Myra.

(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Diane Craft)

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