“The Killer” needs to take a break from Rock and Roll. Jerry Lee Lewis had a recent stroke and will spend the coming months in a rehab facility near his home in Nashville. I was looking forward to his April 28th concert at the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, and had already lined up my tickets for his show. But that’s been cancelled. So let me look back on a few memories about Jerry Lee.
In 1958, I was at a high school hop in St. Louis when the number one song in the country was performed. I danced with my girlfriend to Jerry Lee’s hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” We played the song over and over. My favorite part was when his vocals got quite and in a soft voice he sang.
I play a little music myself, but I have never heard anyone play a boogie woogie piano like he could. He often played standing up and could even play with his feet, after he kicked over his piano bench. Jerry Lee was something else.
Fast forward ten years almost to that day. I’m sitting in my office as a new country lawyer in Ferriday, Louisiana. I had few clients so I was always anxious when the door opened. One afternoon, in walks “The Killer” himself. I recognized him immediately with that long wavy hair and pointed chin. He didn’t need a lawyer but had a family member that was in a bit of trouble with the local game wardens. I was glad to help and that forged a long relationship with the king of rock and roll.
There were other incidents from time to time, and when a relative or friend appealed to Jerry Lee for help, I would get a call. I never sent him a bill for my services, but I could get front row seats to his concerts. He played at a Baton Rouge club called Floyd Brown’s back in the 80s, and Jerry Lee kept my group entertained backstage for a good while after the show.
You have to admire his resiliency. Jerry Lee has certainly had his highs and lows, but in his worse moments, he’s always had the heart and stubbornest to fight back. His popularity today continues at a high level that most star musical performers envy.
I attended a dinner in New York last year for a relative, and a wealthy hedge fund CEO came to my table and introduced himself. He had heard I was from Ferriday. All he wanted to talk about was Jerry Lee Lewis. “My musical idol,” he told me. “I even have a piano in my office, so to unwind, I play “The Killer’s music.” This guy has billions, travels the world in his own private jet, and to relax, he plays the music of a Ferriday boy who cut his musical teeth hanging out with the likes of Mickey Gilley and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart.
The three cousins all were self-taught and could each play the piano before they reached 10 years old. They went separate directions and each found success. At one time, Rev. Swaggart (whose family I also represented) had a worldwide following, and his preaching is still watched in numerous countries. Mickey Gilley, who did several concerts for me in my political days, was named the country singer of the year, and performs now at his own club in Branson, Missouri.
For good reason, Jerry Lee was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is just one more of the musical legends that call Louisiana their home. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and is back on the concert stage again soon. We all want to hear again about “a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.”
The year 2016 was very exciting for Depeche Mode (DM) and their fans. DM announced a new album (their fourteenth), called, Spirit that would be released early 2017. And it was. DM announced their Global Spirit Tour. It began on May 5th in Stockholm. DM received their first nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Alas, they were not among the final inductees (which were: Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes). But that’s okay. Depeche Mode is a future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lock. It’s just a waiting game.
So, with all the good DM news things couldn’t possibly look brighter for their fans! Right?
Enter the Facebook Fan Takeover! And Bring on the Cool Depeche Mode Loving Celebrities!
Let the Takeover begin! (Celebrity appearance later).
Starting January 1st, Depeche Mode began handing over their Facebook page to the fans. One a day for the entire year. 365 fans over 365 days. They are currently on day fifty something (depending on when you read this). Actual fans get to post their thoughts, pictures and links to the DM official Facebook page.
Within reason, of course. There is still an approval process. You submit to the editors of the DM FB page, they run everything through legal and give you advice. For example, you can’t just send them a picture of you and your five besties without getting written permission from said five besties that you then need to forward to DM legal.
Which is all fair. But the reason I bring it up is that I don’t want you to think fans can post whatever crazy, silliness they want. Again, it's all within reason.
And so, with the totally appropriate approval process, actual fans get to post their thoughts and their pictures and share their DM stories with seven million of their best DM loving friends. Mainly, the guest hosts love gush for a while and it's true that some of the writing is awkward and some of it is in broken English but that just adds to the overall charm of the event. There are indeed, actual fans.
And it must be a bit humbling to suddenly post to seven million people. Wow. Um. No pressure!
Glen Hammarstrom, took over the Depeche Mode Facebook page on day 19 and writes about the pressure & his over all Takeover experience:
“I’m sure they say this to everyone who is apart of it, but they really seemed to like what I was sending over and requested that I make a video talking about being an administrator on a DM fan page. While it was very nice of them to ask, it was also terrifying to me! Not to be overly dramatic, but when they ask for a video that will be shared on a FB with over 7 million followers… well, I got a little freaked out.”
Glen’s full recap can be read here: My Facebook takeover recap. And his take seems par for the course for all the host administrator fans, so far.
And then came day 54. Tony Hawk.
Wait, who? I thought you were going to say Tom Hanks or someone huge!
Tony Hawk. International skateboard champion. There are a dozen video games named after him. If you know who he is then you know the deal. If you don’t know who he is, trust me, he’s huge. Check out a compilation of some of his high flying skate acrobatics.
Anyway, it’s always fun to be reminded that celebrities are real people. They like the very same kind of things we do. They have the very same tastes as we do. And Tony Hawk is a huge Depeche Mode fan!
His introduction post on the DM Facebook page for his one day Takeover:
“Hi, I’m Tony Hawk, Pro Skater (but please don’t call me THPS haha). I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since hearing “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “New Life” on KROQ in 1981. Growing up skating the dwindling SoCal skateparks in the early 80’s, KROQ was the only FM station that played music that represented our [counter?] culture. Depeche Mode’s sound was iconically revolutionary at the time, and has continued to evolve ever since. I am still a huge fan of DM, having seen them live... a dozen times over the last three decades. It is a huge honor to host their page for a day, and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer in this space. I’ve also included a few friends that were inspired by DM in their formative years, and went on to make incredible music and art themselves. So let’s all shake the disease and have a black celebration for this legendary band.”
Hawk has several posts during his one day tenure but what received the most attention was when he reached out to his friend, the crazy madman genius musician behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor.
Reznor writes (and Hawk posts on the DM FB page):
"It was the summer of ’86. I’d dropped out of college and was living in Cleveland trying to find my way in the local music scene. I knew where I wanted to go with my life but I didn’t know how to get there. A group of friends and I drove down to Blossom Music Center amphitheater to see the Black Celebration tour. DM was one of our favorite bands and the Black Celebration record took my love for them to a new level.
I’ve thought about that night a lot over the years. It was a perfect summer night and I was in exactly the right place I was supposed to be. The music, the energy, the audience, the connection… it was spiritual and truly magic. I left that show grateful, humbled, energized, focused, and in awe of how powerful and transformative music can be… and I started writing what would eventually become Pretty Hate Machine.
Many times, particularly when we’re playing an amphitheater, I’ll think of that show while I’m onstage and hope someone in the audience is in the midst of a perfect summer night feeling how DM made me feel so many years ago."
I was a late DM bloomer but I too have a story about them. Way back in the eighties I was into your standard pop music. The most outside of the box music taste I had was Cyndi Lauper (love her!). I just didn't understand the look of those strange Duran Duran / Depeche Mode People. Seriously, I used to get Duran Duran confused with Depeche Mode. Like, all the time. Every time that awful "Hungry Like a Wolf" song played on the radio I would think, "Wow, I really hate Depeche Mode." It just wasn't the kind of music I experienced growing up. I thought it was dark and weird.
It wasn't until the mid nineties when I warmed to Depeche Mode and other synth pop, industrial and goth music -- you know, all that dark and weird stuff I used to shun. I had recently started attending an "eighties night" at a club called, Ground Zero. So there I am one random Friday night. A song comes on. I dig it. It sounds kind of familiar but I can't place it and I certainly didn't know at the time it was, obviously, Depeche Mode. I don't recall which exact DM song was playing -- probably "Never Let Me Down Again" or "Personal Jesus." Dear God, Ground Zero played "Personal Jesus" all the time! Anyway, I turn to a group of three industrial / goth woman, strangers to me, and ask, "Excuse me, who is this playing?"
The first, a woman with short platinum hair, gives me a withering "you are clearly a moron" stare and turns away from me. Um. Okay. I glance over to her friend, a woman in a long black skirt. She eyes me up and down, takes in my blue jeans and black t-shirt, and kind of gives me a, "I'm not here to educate normal people" vibe. She was not exactly impolite but she also didn't answer. The third woman smiles at me warmly and steps forward. Now, this third woman, she was actually closer to me than the other two I just mentioned and I should have asked my initial question to her. But I didn't because I was kind of intimidated by her. She was dressed in black leather and wore silvery, gothy rings & multiple necklaces and she had big awesome hair. She was also very , very bosomy. Basically, she was super badass and therefor, kind of frightening to a newbie in normal clothing at a goth club. So this third woman, the one I was totally never going to speak with, says to me, "It's Depeche Mode, sweetie."
Oh. Right. Those guys. I've heard of them. They do that awful Wolf song, right? I was about to blurt that out but my spider sense tingled and prevented me from saying anything dumb. I thank her and turn to hide in the opposite corner. She was having none of that and said, "Is this your first time here?" I tell her I've come on a few occasions but don't actually know anyone. She introduces herself and talks to me for a while and, to my surprise, is neither intimidating or frightening. In fact, I remember thinking, this might be the most genuinely friendly person I've ever met. She asks a bunch of questions about me and finally says, "Let me introduce you to some other folks." Then she takes me around the club and introduces me to, I kid you not, like thirty fucking people.
And that's how I met my dear friend Tracy. I no longer get to see her as often as I would like, but such is life.
And that's my Depeche Mode story.
And that's the end.
DM is only in day fifty something of their FB Takeover. There is plenty of time to apply. The Depeche Mode world tour schedule is here: The Global Spirit Tour. Follow DM on Facebook for more information and updates.