Monday, July 22, 2013

Sun Records: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

For a small, independent label, Sun Records hit the mid 1950s in a big way. One of the label’s best known artists was a fair-haired, Louisiana rocker and his pumping piano. Jerry Lee Lewis came from a musical family and was a cousin to several other famous pianists: Jimmy Swaggart, Mickey Gilley, and Carl McVoy of Bill Black’s Combo.

“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was first recorded by Big Maybelle during spring 1955. In fall of that year, Roy Hall recorded his version of the tune. Jerry Lee recorded the song in February 1957 during his second session at Sun Studios. Sam Phillips was concerned that it might be too risque to be a hit, but he was wrong.

Like Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was a major hit on three charts. It was a #1 hit on the Country and R&B charts and it peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. While there is a fantastic guitar lead on the single, Jerry Lee Lewis demonstrated that the piano could be equally viable as a rock ‘n roll instrument.

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