Q&A with female Rockabilly pioneer Linda Gail Lewis, shares new collection of ‘60s & ‘70s Early Recordings

"When Rock n’ Roll became popular, we started to let our hair down and enjoy life and the music. People were stiff and formal until Rock n’ Roll moved them. The world changed when it happened."

Linda Gail Lewis: Rock n' Roll Queen

Linda Gail Lewis is part of a musical royal family - her older brother is Jerry Lee Lewis, and country star Mickey Gilley and gospel artist Jimmy Swaggart are her cousins. While it took Linda Gail a while to gain an audience of her own, she proved in time she was a gifted pianist and singer in her own right, well versed in rockabilly, rock'n' roll & country. Female Rockabilly Pioneer Linda Gail Lewis, sister Of Rock Legend Jerry Lee Lewis, Shares New Collection Of Early Recordings From The ‘60s & ‘70s! Early Sides 1963-1973 will be released worldwide July 15 on CD, vinyl and digital! At a time when most female artists were content with crooning sappy love songs for mainstream audiences, vocalist and pianist Linda Gail Lewis was following her own muse, singing rowdy and rousing versions of early rock classics like “C.C. Rider,” “Jim Dandy” and “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes).” The latter track might hint at what drove Lewis to blaze her own musical path as it is a duet with Lewis’s brother, well-known raconteur and rabble rouser Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis would go on to record several times with her brother but also branched out to record several solo albums throughout the years as well as a 2000 album with Van Morrison and, more recently, has appeared on albums by Robert Gordon and Ann-Margret!                 (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

But it’s Gail’s early tracks that truly showcase her historic importance as a pioneer of rockabilly music, and these tracks have now been collected on a brand-new compilation, entitled Early Sides 1963-1973, giving fans of vintage rock and rockabilly a chance to discover her unique talents. The audio has been completely remastered by guitar icon Danny B. Harvey who had this to say about the collection “It’s a well-known fact that from 1961 until the late ‘70s, Linda Gail Lewis sang and stood beside her big brother Jerry Lee Lewis, both onstage and in the studio. Not as well-known is during that time she also managed to record her own amazing solo singles in Memphis, Nashville and LA with legendary musicians & producers like Scotty Moore, Jerry Reed, Harold Bradley, Reggie Young & of course her brother backing her.

Interview by Michael Limnios     

Special Thanks: Linda Gail Lewis & Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has the Rock n' Roll culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Because of Rock n’ Roll, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel and meet very talented and interesting people. So, I’ve seen a lot of places, and heard great music. I’ve been blessed to be on stage with my brother and I’ve been on shows with many legends.

Why do you think that the Rock n' Roll music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Rock n’ Roll music makes people happy. It can lift you up when you feel down. You can feel it in your heart and in your soul.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

It’s a little harder doing business in the music business when you’re a woman. Most of the promoters are men. I’m very fortunate that my son in law is handling most of my business. I think it’s a lot better nowadays than it was back when I started my solo career in the late 80’s.

"Because of Rock n’ Roll, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel and meet very talented and interesting people. So, I’ve seen a lot of places, and heard great music. I’ve been blessed to be on stage with my brother and I’ve been on shows with many legends." (Gail Lind Lewis & Jerry Lee Lewis, The Midnight Special 1973 / Photo by Fred Sabine/NBC)

What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

As for highlights. I’ve had quite a few. It was wonderful recording with my brother back in the day. Then it was fantastic to get to tour with him again, opening his shows in Europe and here in the USA. It had been a long time since I had been on the road with him, from 1988 to 2008 Opening for Jerry at BB Kings in NYC was amazing! I’m terrible with dates, but it was about 3 years ago.

Starting my solo career in 1988 was a challenge, but a thrill after it got started. It was great to make an album with Van Morrison. I had a lot of fun in 2017 recording with the talented musician and songwriter Robbie Fulks. Now I’m blessed to have Cleopatra Records, a wonderful record label.  They are the best ever!!

I have my son in law, Danny B. Harvey to produce me and play guitar with me. He is a genius! My daughter Annie Marie Lewis is a great singer and performer and she and Danny are touring with me. We are having so much fun on stage and in the studio!

Advice from my Mother and Father, was to have faith and believe in myself. They taught me to believe that I can do anything I really want to. They meant Anything within reason of course. They also said that I should never hate anyone. They said it would hurt me more than it would hurt them. My brother advised me back in the 60’s to never sing Rock n’ Roll like a girl. He said “Linda you’ve got to Rock like a man “

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I’m still listening to and performing music from the past. I’m doing original songs, but also my favorites from the 50’s. I hope I can do a lot of shows with Annie and Danny. I hope I can write some great songs. I certainly plan to! I’m not living in fear of anything. I just trust in the Lord and keep rockin.

"I’m still listening to and performing music from the past. I’m doing original songs, but also my favorites from the 50’s. I hope I can do a lot of shows with Annie and Danny. I hope I can write some great songs. I certainly plan to! I’m not living in fear of anything. I just trust in the Lord and keep rockin."

(Photo: Linda Gail Lewis)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

I’ve learned how to connect with the audience.  It’s a great feeling when we’re rockin together. I’ve learned that it’s always best to avoid making enemies if you can.

What is the impact of Rock n' Roll music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

When Rock n’ Roll became popular, we started to let our hair down and enjoy life and the music. People were stiff and formal until Rock n’ Roll moved them. The world changed when it happened.

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