If Elvis was considered dangerous, then Jerry Lee Lewis was outright terrifying. He wore custard-yellow suits with black piping and had a sneer that spelled out sex and dirt and a regal arrogance. He was a mean, mean man. “We’re going to hell,” he’d cry. “Fire and brimstone. The fire never dies, the burning never dies, the fire never quenches for the weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth. Yessir, going to hell. The Bible tells us so.” He was nicknamed the Killer, largely for what he did to his poor piano, his golden curls of hair flying as he sweated, battered, and molested the poor thing.
The piano on his first hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (no. 3, ’57), sounded like it could break through the floorboards; it made a roaring, echoing noise like ominous approaching clouds.