Jerry Lee Lewis’s third wife, Myra Lewis Williams, also known as Myra Gale Brown, was his 13-year-old cousin at the time of their nuptials.
She was also the third wife of the late rock and roll pioneer.
What then transpired to her? Williams, 78, claimed in 2016 that she had been “here here” the entire time, but it appears that after 2015, she had broken off contact with her well-known ex-husband.
Lewis, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87, endured professional exile in 1958 as a result of a reporter’s question about the young lady in his group who later identified herself as “Jerry’s wife.”
According to Lewis’ obituary in The Times, the “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire” hitmaker had eloped with Myra Gale Brown in December 1957. Their affair began when he moved into the Memphis house of Myra’s father, JW Brown, who was Lewis’ cousin and bass player.
Williams was 13 years old and Lewis was 22, and when it was discovered that she was also his second cousin and that Lewis was still legally wed to his second wife, Jane Mitchum, the press came down hard on him.
The discovery caused Lewis’ tour to be abruptly canceled; he was radio “blacklisted”, and his revenues decreased overnight. (Throughout his hometown of Ferriday, Louisiana, young couples frequently get married; he got married for the first time at the age of 16 and had seven wives in his lifetime.)
During that time, he continued to make music recordings and perform in theatre, and roughly ten years later, he staged a comeback.
“There was a tonne of drama going on when Jerry Lee and I got to England… The media painted me as a sexy Lolita, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Keep in mind that rumors are not always true,” Williams stated on Instagram in 2015.
Williams stated to Georgia’s Gwinnett Daily Post in 2016 that “that was actually the first controversy of rock ‘n’ roll.” Rock ‘n’ roll was becoming very, very popular at the time, according to what was happening. The pastors detested it. It was despised by radio stations that didn’t play it. The music of the devil was so termed. What was being done to the teenagers was vulgar, impolite, and foolish. They had no idea what it would develop into.
Williams’ first book of the same name served as the inspiration for the 1989 film “Great Balls of Fire,” which starred Dennis Quaid as Lewis and a 17-year-old Winona Ryder as Myra. But it didn’t go far enough in understanding Lewis‘ tenacious personality. Instead, according to The Times’ assessment, director Jim McBride, who developed the film with Jack Baran, “ends up merely satirizing the argyle innocence and daffy exuberance of the ’50s.”
Robert Hilburn, a Times music critic, characterized “Great Balls of Fire” as the “toon of rock movies,” with Jerry Lee Lewis being relegated to the role of Roger Rabbit. Jerry Lee Lewis is not a simple cartoon, despite the fact that he may be many things.
Williams’ 2016 biography “The Spark That Survived” had yet another discussion of their controversial romance. She used Instagram to share some scandalous information while advertising the book. As her account of “how to overcome life’s terrible catastrophes and your own idiotic decisions,” she called the memoir.
“I’m here now! With a new memoir, The Spark That Survived,” she wrote at the time, posting a picture of an old photograph of her and Lewis with the caption, “Whatever happened to Myra?” over it.
She joked, “You’re in for a surprise if you believe you know [my] story of being the 13-year-old wife of my second cousin. Great Balls of Fire, the movie based on my 1988 novel, was just the beginning. I am no longer flexible in the hands of others since I am older and wiser. There are no restrictions this time. I believe this book will make you smile, make you laugh, and touch your spirit. You can hopefully use my experience to manage your own ups and downs. You can, too, if I can endure the biggest catastrophes of life and my own stupid choices.
For her part, Williams told the Post that she didn’t like her first book or its film version because they represented someone person’s notion of how that chapter of her life story ought to be conveyed. She added that she and Lewis were “the adult in the relationship.” (She requested a divorce in 1970, citing claims of domestic violence and adultery.)
Her second book detailed her experiences becoming a mother at the ages of 14 and 17, as well as the 1962 accidental drowning death of their son Steve. She also talked about Lewis’ drug problem, being abused, getting divorced, and entering a second marriage, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
This is what occurred, this is how I handled it, and here I am today, is basically what this book is about, she added. “I not only made it through but having gone through it, I’m better for it. I’m more resilient now and value various aspects of life that many people take for granted. … I suppose what happened to me was a trial by fire. You emerge from the flames having succeeded.
“At the time, I wanted to write this book. But now that I’m older, I’m actually pleased I didn’t because things have gotten better.
Williams touched on her later connection with the rock star in a different Instagram post from 2015, sharing a picture of them with their daughter Phoebe.
Jerry and I stayed in touch for many years since we have a daughter, she wrote. “Phoebe worked for him, and I would still run into him whenever I went to see her. However, Phoebe stopped working for him after his marriage a few years ago to my ex-sister-in-law, who wasn’t yet an ex when they got married (yeah, you read that right), and I haven’t seen him since. I no longer include him in my life. This is how I find life to be beautiful and peaceful.
Williams still hadn’t made a public statement regarding Lewis’ passing as of Friday afternoon. Since the beginning of 2016, her Instagram account has been inactive.
Lewis afterward had four more marriages. His fourth and final marriage took place in 2012, and the first two of those nuptials resulted in the brides’ untimely deaths. It was addressed to Judith Brown, the ex-wife of his cousin and Myra’s younger brother Rusty Brown.