About the song

If you are a fan of rock and roll music, you probably know the song “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, one of the pioneers of the genre. But do you know the story behind this classic hit? In this blog post, we will explore the origins, lyrics, and impact of this song that rocked the world in 1957.

The song was written by Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer, two prolific songwriters who also wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and James Brown. Blackwell was inspired by a Southern expression he heard on a TV show, where a preacher said “Great God Almighty, that was a great ball of fire!” Blackwell thought it would make a catchy title for a song, and he wrote it with Hammer in about 15 minutes.

The song was recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis on October 8, 1957, at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Lewis was accompanied by his cousin J.W. Brown on bass, Roland Janes on guitar, and Jimmy Van Eaton on drums. The producer was Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records and the discoverer of Elvis Presley.

Lewis was reluctant to record the song at first, because he thought it was too risqué and blasphemous for his religious upbringing. He argued with Phillips for hours, until Phillips convinced him to sing it as a joke. Lewis agreed, and he delivered a fiery performance that captured his wild and energetic style. He pounded the piano keys with his fists and feet, shouted and laughed, and improvised some lyrics on the spot.

The song was released as a single in November 1957, with “You Win Again” as the B-side. It was an instant hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard country chart, #2 on the pop chart, and #1 on the UK chart. It sold over five million copies worldwide, and became Lewis’ signature tune.

The song was also featured in the 1957 musical film Jamboree, where Lewis performed it on stage. The film helped to spread the song’s popularity across the globe, and introduced Lewis to a wider audience.

The song has been covered by many artists over the years, including Tom Jones, Aerosmith, Dolly Parton, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Britney Spears. It has also been used in many movies, TV shows, commercials, and video games. Some examples are:

– The 1989 biopic Great Balls of Fire!, starring Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis and Winona Ryder as his cousin and wife Myra Gale Brown.
– The 1991 comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, where Leslie Nielsen sings it while disguised as a singer.
– The 1993 drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, where Johnny Depp plays it on the piano for Juliette Lewis.
– The 1996 animated film All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, where Charlie Sheen voices a dog who sings it with Sheena Easton.
– The 2004 comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, where Ben Stiller’s character uses it as his entrance theme.
– The 2005 musical Million Dollar Quartet, where Levi Kreis plays Jerry Lee Lewis and performs it with other actors portraying Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins.
– The 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas, where it plays on the radio station Radio New Vegas.

The song is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, and a landmark in the history of music. It showcases Jerry Lee Lewis’ talent and charisma, and his influence on generations of musicians. It also reflects the spirit and culture of the 1950s, a decade of change and innovation.

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