Photo of Jerry Lee Lewis, the rocker between God and the Devil

Jerry Lee Lewis’ famous autobiography “Eternal Fire” was published in 1982 by writer Nick Tosh. We talked with the author of the book about the character and his image.

When “Eternal Fire” was originally published in 1982, a book was released Nick Touches About rock singer Jerry Lee Lewis, who died Friday at the age of 87, Rolling Stone deemed him nothing short of “the best rock ‘n’ roll biopic ever.” There was a reason: Far from the typical biographical and bare-bones series, “Eternal Fire,” from Contra Publishing, was a rather fascinating (abbreviated) novel. Without neglecting the contradictory research, Tosh approached Lewis with obscure and obscure literature, replete with biblical references.

For the author, who has alternated between journalism and autobiography, novel and poetry, there is not much difference between fiction and reality. He explains to this appendix: “In a factual work, the writer is bound by the truth. In the novel, the writer is free from all constraints. But writing the truth and writing the novel can be just as much as different experiences.” editor”.

Tosches writes “Eternal Fire” with such intensity that at times, one would even say he could identify himself with this musician torn between respect for God and an attraction to the darker side of life. He writes about another person as if his life were in him.

A review in the biographical genre is not so much authorship as specific works: “The Life of an Explorer Richard Burton by fawn my cold. The Henry James by Leon Edel. The Ezra pound by Humphrey Carpenter. Before less, was the English “The Opium-Eater”, a life Thomas DeQuincy by Robert Morrison. If you ever feel like you’ve lived a difficult life, read on.”

If Jerry Lee chose Lewis in his first autobiography – others follow, from Dean Martin or the boxer Sony Liston– It was because of “the enormity of that character and that life. Beyond Faulkner, beyond the Old Testament. He was not just a great character, but a unique and wonderful character,” he explains.

Tosches doesn’t exactly reveal his first contact with the musician, but he does give us an answer full of poetic wit: “I was a boy, maybe six or seven, when I first glimpsed him. Many years after writing this book, I was looking from the island of Maritimo west of Sicily, and I saw a strange, ferocious gloomy glow in the dark night sky. He later explained to me that red sand hovered in the winds over Africa. That was my first memory of Jerry Lee Lewis: a vague, fiery prophecy looming, a harbinger of the coming storm.”

deep roots

The book begins by describing the night Jerry Lee Lewis, aka “The Killer,” approached Elvis’ mansion with malicious intent (and a pocket pistol). He was arrested before the assault escalated.

What follows is not a “flashback” of the musician’s childhood, but an exploration of Lewis’ ancestors and his life in Snake Ridge, an ancient settlement (too old and unimportant it’s not even on maps) of poor farmers. From there, his family moved to Ferriday because a wealthy relative lives there, Lee Calhoun (Louis owes his middle name to Uncle Lee.)

Jerry began singing in that city in the Deep South, in a church of the Assembly of God of the Pentecostal movement.

Scandal after scandal

Our hero learned to fear God, but fell into scandal after scandal. He shot the bass player, married his second cousin, aged 13, Mira (He was 22 years old), and was taken to hospital for amphetamine abuse … The pharmacist he shared with Elvis once claimed that Lewis could take eight to ten amphetamine capsules before each show. “He was a man, and if hell didn’t exist, he would have created it for himself,” says Tosh.

Years ago, Lewis talked about the writer in these terms in an interview with GQ: “Oh, Tosches is full of shit like a Christmas turkey. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about … I’ll blow his head off.” So does Jerry Lee.

It remains only to live

For movie buffs, Jerry Lee Lewis will always be Dennis Quaid, who personified her in “The Great Ball of Fire,” a 1989 biographical film in which the tone of light barely matches the darkness of the volume on which Tosches signed. What does the writer think of this movie? “Not much,” he says without further ado.

The film was based on a book written by Mira herself, her second cousin-turned-wife, and tells a story in the key to a romantic comedy that, for others, isn’t funny at all: Was he a manipulator and she was a cheated girl. ?? The movie hints at it, but the fun wins out.

It is possible to dream of what he could do, and say, Scorsese With a book like “Eternal Fire”. But the biography of Tosches who was interested in the director of “One of ours” was not so, but a biography Dean Martin. For a long time there was talk of adaptation. Is it still working? “No, they didn’t tell me anything,” says the writer. “The only movie I have something to see that interest me is the one Johnny Depp wants to do from ‘The Dante Manuscript,'” he admits.

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