After a six week tour of Europe, my Daddy and I returned home to our ranch in Nesbit and our wildly appreciative dogs – safe and sound and ready to celebrate the holidays. For the past two weeks or so since we’ve been back, we decided to do nothing more stressful than unpacking, decompressing, decorating the house for Christmas, and taking care of a few odds and ends.
It’s funny, when I travel with my Daddy on business and work hard behind the scenes coordinating the many demands and details of touring, I run the risk of missing the chance to savor the special moments when the Killer is tearing it up on stage. Not this time though! I took advantage of every opportunity to see the show regardless of whether I was sitting out front with the crowd or hanging out back stage. For me personally, this is one tour that I will always remember with great fondness. Those of you who had a chance to watch a performance or two know exactly what I mean when I say how great my Daddy sounded and looked. As we travelled from city to city, and playing for audiences that ranged from enthusiastic, deeply appreciative, and loving to wildly passionate and frenzied with the spirit of great rock and roll, my Daddy seemed to get more and more animated and refreshed as the tour went on. His voice was so strong and clear and soulful, and his piano seemed like it had a life all its own. Honestly, he enjoyed the shows as much as the people who bought a ticket and trust me, at each of our stops along the way, the audience saw Jerry Lee Lewis at his best.
Equally satisfying was the opportunity to visit and catch up with so many of our long time friends and special fans – some of whom have been coming to shows since the 1960’s. I am smiling as I type this thinking about the laughs we shared. I also want to mention how special it was to have Wanda Jackson on the bill again with my Daddy. As many of you know, Wanda is the queen of rockabilly and as she has been called by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC “the sweet lady with the nasty voice.” Wanda is a pioneer in this business and her talent and energy and showmanship make her seem ten feet tall on stage.
And lest I forget, I want to extend my sincerest thanks to Linda Gail Lewis and her daughters Mary Jean and Annie for the fabulous job they did opening some of the shows for my Daddy. In case you have not had the pleasure yet of seeing Linda Gail perform, believe me, she really kicks it into high gear when she's on that stage. You can definitely tell that she has a true passion for her music and is a Lewis through and through!
Now for the silly, behind the scenes stuff, that has nothing to do with touring.
Don’t let it get around, but I, Phoebe Lewis, daughter of the great Jerry Lee Lewis, am guilty of setting off the fire alarm at our hotel in London and responsible for causing all the guests and hotel staff to immediately evacuate the premises.
Here’s what happened. After checking into the hotel and changing into something a little more comfortable than jeans, I decided that it would be a good thing to relax a little before dinner by burning incense in my room, sitting down with a good book to read, and enjoying some of the tasty snacks that room service just dropped off. Hey, I was being careful but apparently the new smoke alarms in this five-star hotel are hyper-sensitive and not exceedingly forgiving. I was kicking back in an overstuffed arm chair, my feet comfortably resting on an ottoman, my shoes and socks somewhere near the closet, when all of a sudden, the overhead fire alarm started to wail like it was an air raid drill during the World War II blitzkrieg! I was trying to keep my cool but through no fault of my own, things rapidly escalated into a comedy of errors and our little traveling pack looked like the keystone cops. I first tried to make the alarm stop blaring by fanning sheets of note paper underneath the smoke detector. Our road manager, J.W. Whitten dashed into the room from my Daddy’s adjoining suite and said with great confidence “here, let me show you how to do that.” J.W., bless his heart, picked up my winter coat which was draped over the back of the chair and with the flair of a Spanish bull fighter started waving at the smoke detector with purposeful intensity but on the reach back he managed to knock the lamp off the table which crashed to the floor. Then my Daddy popped his head in the room and as you can imagine, was kind enough to share with J.W. and me the benefit of his thinking (ugghh) but fortunate for us, we couldn’t hear much over the deafening sound of the alarm. Now we were notified that we would have to leave our cozy, warm rooms and evacuate the hotel with the rest of the guests. My Daddy was none too pleased as he had to rush to put his socks and boots back on as he continued to “sing my praises.” He slipped on his overcoat and we all headed down the back stairs, rushing to keep pace with the other guests. So here we were, standing outside in the cold, on the private road that leads to Kensington Palace, former home of Princess Diana. In our little huddle were me, my Daddy (who is not a huge fan of really cold weather), J.W., and some of our new best friends from the hotel. As if things weren’t silly enough, I started running around trying to make the employees understand that the hotel was not really on fire and that I had inadvertently set off the fire alarm simply by burning incense in my room. My Daddy told me to pipe down or they were going to have me arrested. A few minutes passed and I was looking around from face to face when all of a sudden something dawned on me; “Hey, where the heck are Cecil Harrelson and Linda Gail Lewis – who had both checked in with us?” Just then, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Cecil, barreling around the corner wearing what looked like a very large tin foil poncho which draped down below his knees! Linda Gail was following close behind with a big grin on her face. I looked back at Cecil and thought “what is he wearing and what the heck was he doing?” Well, as it turned out, Linda and Cecil had been having coffee in the restaurant as I was up in my room executing my “relaxation plan.” Apparently the inimitable Mr. Harrelson was wearing a light tee shirt and blue jeans and totally unprepared for an emergency evacuation into the raw London weather. Like I said, it was awfully cold outside so the hotel was thoughtful enough to provide him with an oversized piece of fireproof material to keep him warm and protect his assets. To me, he looked like a Christmas turkey fully prepared to go in the oven, basted, wrapped, and ready to roast. What a day…what a day!
And speaking about Christmas, as I mentioned earlier, we are all back at ranch, and have been busy getting ready for the holidays. Just like all of you, we love decorating the house and putting up the lights, and in our hearts, hoping that Santa will be good to us this year. As usual, I am cooking our traditional family dinner, but I think that we will keep things under control and not over do the menu and end up with too many leftovers. We are happy that Linda Gail may be able to join us. This should be a lot of fun as it is always nice to have family around. So to one and all, from me, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cecil Harrelson, J.W. Whitten, Steve Green, Michael Blitzer, and the entire Lewis family, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and blessed New Year.