Very few people know that three cousins are all famous piano players: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart. They grew up together in Farriday, Louisiana and learned piano there. Legend has it that Mrs. Gilley, who worked as a waitress bought the piano the three of them learned on.
I’m not a church-going person for a lot of reasons I won’t go into in a public forum like this, but I am a very spiritual person. When an ex girlfriend’s mother asked me if I was “born again” my answer to her was “my creator and I have never argued.”
One type of music I love is gospel. It’s the roots of rock and roll and rhythm and blues. So many of the greats of those genres came out of the gospel tradition…Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Patti LaBelle and the greatest of all Aretha. In fact I have a recording of Aretha singing in her father’s church at the age of 15. She’s singing Precious Lord and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. You could tell at that age she was something special.
When I lived in New Orleans I went to the Jazz Fest every year. My favorite venue was the Gospel Tent. I would go almost every day throughout the festival and always spent a lot of time in the Gospel Tent. It was the rockingest place in the entire Fair Grounds. The last year I went, ’85, I was there five times and the only time I left the tent was to go see Roy Orbison.
Here, then, are the three cousins doing their gospel best.