Rock ‘n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis is a man of controversial acts, mainly because of his unconventional love life. The American singer has been married seven times, and his third wife was his teenage cousin.
In August 2015, The Guardian interviewed Jerry Lee Lewis and his seventh wife, Judith Brown, at their home. Before the sit-down interview, Judith gave the interviewer the heads up about her husband:
“OK, you have to talk loud and slowly to Jerry. And don’t mention any bad words, nothing negative.”
She added the interviewer could ask about her, but when it came to the star’s ex-wives, he should avoid the subject because her spouse does not like talking about personal stuff.
Judith and the musician have known each other for decades and have been married for nearly ten years. They had much in common as they both grew up in the south as Pentecostal Christians.
Judith started nursing Lewis several years ago, and their interaction blossomed into something more. She shared they fell for each other at the time and said:
“He was very sick, so in taking care of him and talking about the way we grew up, we fell in love with each other.”
When asked whether her husband’s history with the women he married ever gave her a shadow of doubt to tie the knot with him, Judith said she did not hesitate and explained why.
“No, no, I love these women who loved him. But those wives were much younger than him, most of them, and past is past, said Judith, now in her seventies.
Lewis shocked Hollywood when news broke that he wed his second cousin Myra Gale Brown in 1958. It was during that year that the pianist embarked on a tour in England.
He was set to become rock music’s biggest star, as the tour was supposed to establish his worldwide fame. But when he and his entourage landed in London, the press was eager to learn more about the teenage girl by his side, young Myra.
At the time, she told reporters that no one told her anything about what to say and ended up revealing what would become the biggest scandal of that era:
“When a reporter asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I was the one who let the big ol’ cat out of the bag. It was the perfect storm, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time, at a worse place.”
Myra, who is now Myra Williams, a real estate broker in Atlanta, added: “Everything just came together, and a major explosion happened.”
Upon dropping the bombshell, the British tabloids had a field day, and as a result, the tour got canceled. Soon after, Lewis held a defiant press conference at the London airport and accused the British media of jealousy while raving about his cars and houses.
Right after, he and his family returned home to Memphis, and by the time they arrived, reports revealed that his third young wife was the daughter of his cousin and bass player, J.W. Brown.
In addition, the then-22-year-old Lewis was still technically married to his previous wife, Jane Mitcham. Following the debacle, the Louisiana native’s career went on a downward spiral.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT & MARRIAGE TO MYRA
Kris Kristofferson said Lewis went from a performer who made $10,000 a night to not even making at least $100 a night. American journalist Alan Light shared that Rolling Stone sent him to the Lewis Ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi, years ago.
The intention was to capture a portrait of Myra and Lewis together and write about the experience and their interaction. Light revealed that he discovered that Myra was a bright, funny woman.
The two of them were reportedly playful and affectionate during the shoot – joking and giggling, poking, and swatting at each other. When the rock critic provided the editors with feedback, they fell in love with a photo of Lewis sitting alone at his childhood piano.
The piece was recast as a straight profile, while Myra’s voice was relegated to two quotes. Light said that although Lewis married five more times, it seemed Myra remained close to his heart.
The former couple was married for 13 years and divorced in 1970 after Myra alleged that she suffered physical and mental abuse at the hands of Lewis.
The “Sun Records” star did not refute the claims and instead admitted that he was responsible for the abuse because Myra caught him cheating.
In June 1989, Myra told The Los Angeles Times that she went to see a psychiatrist after their divorce. She thought she must have lost her senses after what she experienced within her marriage.
“You can’t go through a life like that and come out and be OK. I must be insane,” she said. However, according to the psychiatrists, she was far from being insane, and they told her she was okay. But to Myra, she did not feel fine.
Being a published author, she said she endured years of therapy through her book titled “The Spark That Survived.” Myra explained she went through a lifetime of grief, happiness, sadness, love and joy, and scandal.
Remarkably, all of that went away when she finished writing her book, saying she felt free of her life because it was between the book’s covers. The 77-year-old is now married to her third husband, Richard Williams, whom she wed in 1984.
As for her ex-husband Lewis, the 86-year-old and Judith renewed their wedding vows on their ninth anniversary in March 2021. The ceremony took place only weeks after getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
Rev. Donnie Swaggart, who is Lewis’ cousin, officiated the proceedings. According to Reuters, the couple held hands in their living room of Lewis Ranch, a tourist attraction.
About 100 guests attended the vow renewal and were required to test negative for COVID-19 to be eligible to attend the private party. The couple had been quarantined for months before the event.
Notably, because of the ongoing pandemic, Lewis even skipped celebrating his 85th birthday. He usually celebrates all his birthdays by hosting parties.
Speaking of age, his string of marriages began when he was 16 years old. Lewis’ first wife was Dorothy Barton, a preacher’s daughter, and their union only lasted for seven months.
Lewis got married for the second time weeks before his divorce from Barton was final. The second marriage lasted four years, and he welcomed his first child therein.
He is the only surviving member of Sun Records, including Roy Orbison, Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Lewis was one of the first performers inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
He was born on September 29, 1935, into a religious family who was incredibly supportive and invested in his future that they sold their house when he was a child to get him a piano. Lewis loved playing piano when he was young and grew up to be a musical icon.