Fifty years after starting his recording career with “Crazy Arms,” Jerry Lee Lewis notes that he’s “putting in a little bit more time these days.” And that’s an understatement.
The Killer actually has a whole lot shakin’. His latest album, “Last Man Standing” — a duets collection featuring Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, most of the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page and others — hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart and No. 4 on the Top Country Albums tally. It’s spawned a TV special and DVD, both of which will appear next year, as well as plans to record more albums, including gospel and blues collections.
“I’d like to do some more songs, if I’m able to do it,” the 71-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells Billboard.com. “That depends on God’s willing. I don’t want to go away dead, y’know? If it comes to a showdown, I’d like to do some more.”
Jimmy Rip, who co-produced “Last Man Standing” and is working with Lewis on the other projects, tells Billboard.com that “we kept thinking, ‘God, this guy’s not getting any younger. Let’s give him something to smile about.’ We just wanted to see him recognized again for what he is, which is an amazing, original artist.”
The TV special, whose broadcast details are still being negotiated, features Lewis dueting with artists who from “Last Man Standing” — including Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Kid Rock — as well as additional partners such as Solomon Burke, Norah Jones and Chris Isaak. The performances were filmed at Sony Studios in New York and Henson Studios in Los Angeles. Rip says additional interviews with the performers and footage from the sessions for “The Last Man Standing” album will be incorporated into the DVD.
Ripp says there’s also another full Lewis album ready to go, mostly without guests and “still very stripped down, just like [‘Last Man Standing’] — actually a bit harder, a bit more of an edge to the sound. Jerry calls it his blues record.” Ripp says he’s hoping to make a “straight-up country record” with Lewis, but a gospel album is the artist’s next priority.
“I want to do a gospel album next,” he says, “not a lot of new-type stuff; a lot of old-type stuff, the old gospel music. I was raised in church, singing for God. That’ll have a big bearing on it.”