The Very First Jerry Lee Lewis Recording

One of my first Jazz Fest experiences right here in Faubourg St. John was in the late 70’s. I just happened to be right in front of the stage when Jerry Lee Lewis came out and tickled the ivories to everyone’s delight. Read below about a significant recording to be featured on the HISTORY CHANNEL tonight…

January 12, 2012, Baton Rouge, LA:

The HISTORY CHANNEL unveiled its newest TV Series, Cajun Pawn Stars, Sunday night, January 12th, in the 9 PM CST slot to a 3.6+ Million viewer nationwide audience. One of the first items presented on the new series was an offer by Cecil Harrelson to sell the purported first Jerry Lee Lewis recording ever made to Jimmie DeRamus, owner/operator of the Silver Dollar Pawn Shop in Alexandria, LA.

Mike Shepherd, President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame was called in by the Silver Dollar Pawn Shop owner as an expert to authenticate and place a value on the purported first Jerry Lee Lewis recording. Shepherd had previously provided the show’s producers information on the existence of this artifact of rock and roll, contacted Harrelson and engineered Harrelson’s appearance and the record’s presentation on the show.

“Although I had never seen the actual record before, it was pretty easy for me to authenticate that it was the real deal,” Shepherd explained. “Jerry Lee Lewis himself had told me during my induction visit to his Mississippi ranch that the recording existed and was in the possession of Cecil. During that same visit, Cecil further confirmed that to me, telling me the story of how it came to be recorded.”

“Secondly, the record was signed on both sides by Jerry Lee Lewis,” Shepherd added. “The other factor sealing the deal was that Cecil himself came to offer the record to Jimmie DeRamus at Silver Dollar Pawn.”

“Also, Cosimo Matassa, the owner of J&M Recording Studios in New Orleans in the early 1950’s, in a previous conversation told me that Jerry Lee Lewis had indeed come into his studio and cut a record around that time,” Shepherd elaborated. “He didn’t know Jerry Lee at the time, but years later recognized him as the kid that had been in his studio with a buddy.”

“The significance of this time line is that it validates that Jerry Lee Lewis had indeed recorded, in New Orleans, his first two songs, at least two years earlier than has been accepted as the date of his first ever recordings, or at Sun Studios in Memphis,” Shepherd pointed out.

“This recording by Jerry Lee Lewis prior to his previously known work indicates how important Louisiana, New Orleans and Cosimo Matassa were in introducing and pioneering the rock and roll music scene in the early 1950’s,” Shepherd noted. “Cosimo recorded the first recordings of Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Lloyd Price in a span of around four years, while Elvis was getting his first contract and becoming committed to a career in music at Shreveport, LA’s historic Louisiana Hayride, thus constituting the beginning of rock and roll.”

Matassa’s J&M studio, Matassa, Domino, Price, Little Richard and Presley are all members of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and all but Presley are currently members of The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame along with the Louisiana Hayride..

Cecil Harrelson, twice married to Linda Gale Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister asked $100,000 for the Lewis historical recording that he shelled out $2.25 for in 1952. Mike Shepherd, the show’s “expert” on music, pegged the value at around $20,000. However, Jimmie DeRamus, the owner of the Silver Dollar Pawn Shop and star of Cajun Pawn Stars made Harrelson a firm, legitimate offer of $30,000 for the historical Lewis recording. Harrelson turned down the offer.

“The Jerry Lee Lewis recording was on a 78 RPM recording studio acetate record,’’ Shepherd added. “The first recorded side was Lewis’ instrumental “New Orleans Boogie,” the second, a vocal cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “Please Don’t Stay.”

Shepherd says, “I want to thank LeftField, Jimmie DeRamus, History Channel and Cajun Pawn Stars for allowing myself and the LMHOF to contribute and be a part of this series and bring parts of Louisiana’s incredible musical history to this nationwide audience, helping educate all to our (Louisiana’s) musical history and legacy of excellence.”

The first two episodes of the Cajun Pawn Stars, including “Sweet and Sour,” scored an initial TV viewership over double of that for the first episodes of Pawn Stars,” both produced by LeftField Productions, and airing on the History Channel. Between the initial January 8th showing and the January 9th first rerun of the two episodes, “Cajun Pawn Stars” was seen by over 7 Million viewers.

The History Channel’s Cajun Pawn Stars’ “Sweet & Sour” episode featuring the Jerry Lee Lewis recording will replay another three times this week on January 12th, 13th and 14th.

The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame is an IRS certified 501C3 organization, recognized as Official by the State of Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge, LA, and operating an extremely large web site at Shepherd is a 45+ year veteran of Louisiana’s music industry and founder of The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, also serving as the Corporation’s President and LMHOF’s Executive Director.

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Charlie London
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