In 1976, Jerry Lee Lewis Was Arrested Drunk, Waving Gun At Graceland
By | November 21, 2019
Outlaw, piano player, gun owner, belter of "Great Balls of Fire" and "Breathless," Jerry Lee Lewis was a complicated man. But even complicated, deeply strange pianists just want to see their friends. In the wee hours of November 23, 1976, Jerry Lee Lewis was booked on public drunkenness and carrying a loaded firearm outside of Elvis Presley’s gated home, Graceland. Rumors have persisted that the singer was there to assassinate Elvis, but Lewis claims that he was only there to see his friend and that he’d just had too much to drink. How did two members of the Sun Records million dollar quartet come to be at odds with one another? Were they even at odds? Maybe Jerry Lee Lewis ramming his car into the gates of Graceland with a loaded gun on his dashboard was all a misunderstanding. We’ve all been there, right?
Jerry and Elvis go way back
To understand why Jerry Lee Lewis would think it’s a good idea to smash up his friend’s gates with a Lincoln Continental in the middle of the night you need some context. Lewis first met Elvis at Sun Records in 1956, both of them were young musicians at the time and they easily bonded over their love of gospel music. When The King dropped into the studio during a Carl Perkins session on December 4 of that year he found Johnny Cash watching Perkins and Lewis. The four of them started singing spirituals together and the engineer left the tape running on the session. The outcome was Million Dollar Quartet, named as such because the four men (Cash, Elvis, Lewis, and Perkins) were the biggest acts on Sun Records. As their stars rose, this wholesome day in the studio would become a rarity.