Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have read how the career of Jerry Lee Lewis took a real blow when he married his cousin circa-1958.

This sounds like an unfortunate situation, one that in more recent years would cause little more than a shrug. Celebrities now get away with murder — literally as well as figuratively — without being blacklisted as much as Lewis.

Considering the backlash, did Jerry Lee Lewis appear on the Dick Clark's American Bandstand after that marriage? How about before?

Is he in both the Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames? I hope so since I grew up enjoying both music styles.
—Leslie Madison, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR LESLIE: Let's begin this Lewis and Clark expedition on what was coincidentally my 13th birthday: August 19, 1957.

I mention this not to solicit a birthday card, but to show how perfectly I represented American Bandstand's target demographic.

On that date — Bandstand's ABC network debut — Clark's special guest was Jerry Lee Lewis, with Jimmy Bowen and the Rhythm Orchids rounding out the bill.

Lewis sang his mega-hit “Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On.”

Clark invited the self-proclaimed “Killer” back three times before the end of '57: in October, November, and December.

In mid-December, Jerry Lee married his 13-year-old second cousin, Myra Gale Brown.

As if that were not enough to stimulate turmoil, the marriage took place several months before Lewis obtained a divorce from his previous wife, Jane Mitcham.

This would be Jerry's second bigamous fling, as he married Mitcham in 1954, while still married to his first wife, Dorothy Barton.

Still, some legal opinions hold that Lewis is not guilty of bigamy the second time because he could not have legally wed Mitcham while still married to Barton. If so, his marital status would be single when he married Myra.

Regardless, Dick Clark didn't seem overly concerned by the controversy. Jerry Lee returned to American Bandstand in January and again in March of 1958.

Four years passed before Jerry's next AB appearance (1962), an interval caused more by his being off the charts for awhile than for his chaotic lifestyle.

Lewis performed one last time on Bandstand, in October 1964.

He signed earlier that year with Mercury-Smash, and began an impressive run of about 40 hits for them (1964-1982).

The question specifically asks about American Bandstand; however, Dick Clark also booked Lewis twice in 1958 for his prime-time Saturday Night Beechnut Show.

On their premier show (February 15), Jerry sang “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless.” He returned just three weeks later to reprise “Breathless” followed by “You Win Again,” the flip side of “Great Balls of Fire.”

Interestingly, Dick Clark featured Jerry Lee Lewis on the network premiers of both American Bandstand and his Beechnut Show.

One of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 10 charter inductees (1986), Jerry Lee Lewis has been enshrined in Cleveland for 20 years. He is not yet in the Country Music Hall of Fame, though, as one of the Top 50 stars in C&W history, this honor is certainly forthcoming.

However, it is not yet as overdue as the inexplicable, inexcusable overlooking of Connie Francis by the R&R Hall of Fame. But don't get me started on that annoying issue!

DEAR JERRY: Who recorded the original version of “Sealed with a Kiss”? I know Brian Hyland had the big hit of it but I am certain his is not the original.
—Gary Stern, Columbus, Ga.

DEAR GARY: I'm surprised you know of it, but right you are.

In the summer of 1960, exactly two years before Brian Hyland's Top 3 hit, “Sealed with a Kiss” came out by the Four Voices (Columbia 41699).

Though the Four Voices were quite well known for “Lovely One,” a Top 20 tune in 1956, their “Sealed with a Kiss” went virtually unnoticed.

IZ ZAT SO? American Bandstand is legendary for having its guests lip-sync, but the irrepressible Jerry Lee Lewis simply refused to do so, saying “I ain't no puppet! I didn't come all the way up from Memphis to play charades.”

He got his way and performed his music live, being the first rebel to do so on Bandstand.

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