Kenny Lovelace, who has been Jerry Lee Lewis’s bandleader and right-hand man, shares stories about his career and his relationship with Lewis in this interview and performance. Lovelace and a small band perform four musical numbers following the interview: “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me),” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Let’s Dance to Stardust,” and “Old Joe Clark.”
Part of the Museum’s quarterly “Nashville Cats” series, this program was recorded on July 16, 2022.
Lovelace has been Jerry Lee Lewis’s lead guitarist, fiddler, bandleader, and general right-hand man for over fifty years. They have toured the world together, and Lovelace has played fiddle on a number of Lewis's country hits, including “Another Place Another Time,” “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me),” “She Still Comes Around (To Love What’s Left of Me),” and “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye.”
Lovelace discusses his upbringing and musical beginnings in the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, region. He recalls meeting his musical heroes Hank Williams and Jerry Rivers at age fourteen. In his later teens, Lovelace played on his first recording session—Maggie Sue Wimberly’s “How Long” for Sun Records—and moved into rock & roll as a member of the Five Jets.
Lovelace talks about Lewis discovering him in 1967 in Monroe, Louisiana, where the Five Jets were playing at a supper club with Lewis’s sister Linda Gail Lewis. Much of the program focuses on the close, enduring musical relationship between Lovelace and Jerry Lee. Their collaborations over the decades are illustrated in the program with vintage audio (“Sweet Georgia Brown”) and video (“Mystery Train,” “Money,” “Thirty-Nine and Holding,” and other classics).
Lovelace performs after the interview, leading a quartet that features his grandson Nick Lovelace, cousin Jimmy Lovelace (Five Jets), and Bobby Cox (Five Jets). Kenny handles lead guitar on “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous” and “You Are My Sunshine.” The ballad “Let’s Dance to Stardust” highlights his somewhat overlooked vocal and songwriting abilities. Switching to fiddle, Lovelace brings the program to an exciting close with the traditional hoedown “Old Joe Clark.”
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