A huge part of the success of shows like Pawn Stars and Antiques Roadshow is that you just never know what people are going to bring in. Such is the case in the second episode of The History Channel’s new reality series Cajun Pawn Stars when Silver Dollar Pawn shop owner Jimmie DeRamus is presented with what his customer claims is a Jerry Lee Lewis recording from two years before it was previously thought he cut his first demo.
According to current biographies of Jerry Lee Lewis, he cut his first demo recording in 1954 during a time when he was playing piano at clubs in and around Natchez and Ferriday, Mississippi. (This was just after his infamous expulsion from Southwest Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas after performing a boogie woogie rendition of “My God Is Real” at a church assembly – one day after arriving on campus.)
But, according to Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Executive Director Mike Shepherd, that history is about to be re-written thanks to a discovery made in Cajun Pawn Stars!
“I’m not allowed to reveal all of the things that will be featured before the shows air, but one that the producers is already promoting is our discovery of Jerry Lee Lewis’ first recording made in 1952 at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio in New Orleans,” Shepherd says. “This is a historical bombshell because virtually all music historians have said Jerry Lee’s first studio work was at Sun Studios in Memphis and rockabilly was his main influence. This recording predates that by years and shows that his style originated with his gospel and country roots in Ferriday and early exposure to the “boogie” piano legacy of New Orleans blues and jazz. It’s yet one more proof to our assertion that rock & roll was born in Louisiana.”
Holy smokes! A Jerry Lee Lewis recording from 1952 that has never been released?!? I’m a huge Jerry Lee Lewis fan and that IS explosive stuff! (Now all of a sudden my Jerry Lee Bear Family box sets seem lacking.)
I’ll be tuning into the show and will update the post if they provide any more info on the recording. Until then, let’s all take a trip back to the early days of rock and roll with a clip of The Killer and his Louisiana boogie roots blowing the roof off the joint with his performance of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!”
UPDATE – Here are some more details on the record, which was authenticated on the show as the real deal.
The record was brought in by a man named Cecil Harrison, who was a long-time friend of Jerry Lee Lewis. (Actually, Cecil reveals that he married Jerry Lee’s sister, but it eventually ended in divorce. And then they got married again! Yup, sounds like a Lewis!)
Cecil was with Jerry Lee Lewis when he got the idea to record himself – and that’s exactly what he did at a “J&M Records” do-it-yourself recording studio, which used to be quite common. You go in, pay a couple bucks, sing a song, and walk out with a record. What’s amazing is that the low-grade record was still in good enough shape to play!
Cecil payed $2.25 for the recording and it was appraised on the show to be worth at least $15,000 – $20,000. Jimmie offered as much as $45,000, but Cecil held firm at $100,000 and walked out still in possession of the historic recording.
They played a brief audio clip on the show and I imagine it will eventually surface online at some point, at which point I will add it to the post.