Jerry Lee Lewis, along with the late country singer Keith Whitley and music executive Joe Galante, are among the 2022 inductees into The Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lewis, 86, will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, while Whitley will join the “Modern Era Artist” category and Galante will enter the “Non-Performer” category.
At 21, Lewis arrived in Memphis and started his career under the guidance of Sam Phillips at Sun Records, playing alongside Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley in the Million Dollar Quartet. Lewis energy immediately burst out in early rock hits like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Today, “Great Balls of Fire” is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” is part of the National Recording Registry.
In the 1960s, Lewis continued his career Lewis releasing country singles like ″She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye,” “To Make Love Sweeter for You,” and “What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me).”
Over the years, Lewis felt he had been snubbed from the Country Music Hall of Fame, and couldn’t understand the lack of recognition for his contribution to the genre.
“To be recognized by Country Music with their highest honor is a humbling experience,” said Lewis in a statement. “The little boy from Ferriday, Lousiana listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams never thought he’d be in a Hall amongst them. I am appreciative of all those who have recognized that Jerry Lee Lewis music is country music and to our almighty God for his never-ending redeeming grace.”
Country Music Hall of Fame members and Country duo Brooks & Dunn hosted the press conference to announce the 2022 via livestream.
“The works of this year’s inductees span crucial timestamps of Country Music history,” said Sarah Trahern, CEO, CMA in a statement. “This impressive career landmark is the pinnacle accomplishment in Country Music and I’m so proud to see Eddie, Ray, Pete, Naomi and Wynonna getting their much-deserved plaques on the wall of the Rotunda. Today’s fans and generations to come will forever be reminded of the distinct impact each made on this genre.”
A formal induction ceremony for Lewis, Whitley, and Galante will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater in fall of 2022.
Lewis now joins Cash, “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Phillips, and Elvis Presley in the Country Music Hall of Fame and is now the fourth member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame founding class of inductees to gain membership into the Country Music Hall of Fame; Presley entered in 1998, the Everly Brothers in 2001, and Ray Charles was inducted in 2021.
“My style of country music is just me,” Lewis told the Associated Press in 2017. “I wouldn’t know how to do anyone else’s.”
Photo: Sean Gowdy / 117 Publicity