What is Jerry Lee Lewis' net worth? From earning $10,000 per performance to filing for bankruptcy

What is Jerry Lee Lewis' net worth? From earning $10,000 per performance to filing for bankruptcy
Jerry Lee Lewis died at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, at the age of 87 (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Skyville)

Jerry Lee Lewis is known to be one of the greatest rock 'n' roll stars of all time and his success is a testament to how truly magnificent he was in his field. Sadly, the singer-songwriter who played an important role in making rock ‘n’ roll famous, died at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, at the age of 87.

According to his publicist, the iconic musician died with his seventh wife, Judith, by his side and noted that he watched all the greats “fade away” till it was him alone to “bear witness, and sing of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.”  The musician began his musical journey at a very young and started performing at the age of 14. Since then, he took a liking toward boogie-woogie, a style of blues on the piano with a strong, fast beat. In the late 1950s, he did his first recordings and became a pioneer of rock and roll music and became an instant superstar.

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American singer and pianist Jerry Lee Lewis, UK, October 1966. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American singer and pianist Jerry Lee Lewis, UK, October 1966 (Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Over the years, the musician went on to give numerous hits that would make him one of the greatest of all time. In a career spanning over six decades, Lewis produced over 40 studio albums and sold millions of copies. His musical career helped him in garnering a lot of fame and a lot of money as well. So, let’s take a look at Jerry Lee Lewis’ net worth at the time of his death.

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Early career and recognition

Born on September 29, 1935, Jerry Lee Lewis made his first public performance at the age of 14 and had a love for boogie-woogie. As a result, his mother enrolled him at the Southwest Bible Institute in Texas, but his association with the institute ended on the same day because he daringly played a boogie-woogie rendition of ‘My God Is Real’ at a church assembly. The next day, he was expelled from the institute. After that, he never looked back and started singing boogie-woogie and performing at various venues. In November 1956, he auditioned for Sun Records and started working with the label as a session musician for other Sun artists, including Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.

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Piano pounding American rock 'n' roll singer 'the Killer' Jerry Lee Lewis, engrossed during a live performance.
In 1958, Lewis came out with his first album simply titled ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’ and the album was a hit and garnered good reviews (Evening Standard/Getty Images)

A day that changed everything

On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley told Lewis to pay a visit while Perkins was in the studio cutting new tracks. Johnny Cash was also present there and the entire group started an impromptu jam session. Sam Phillips, who was also present there, kept the tape running and recorded the tracks they sang during that jam session. These recordings were released on a CD as Million Dollar Quartet and the jam session is still considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of rock and roll.

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Solo career

In 1958, Lewis came out with his first album simply titled ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’. The album was a hit and garnered good reviews. Meanwhile, his next album ‘Jerry Lee’s Greatest’ turned out to be a bigger hit and even reached 12th position in the UK. Since then, the musician went on to release numerous successful albums and garnered a lot of rave reviews for his style of singing and songwriting.

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Rock 'n' roll legend and piano-pounder Jerry Lee Lewis, also known as the 'Killer' performing on stage.
Jerry Lee Lewis 1969 album ‘Sings the Country Music Hall of Fame Hits, Vol. 1’ reached the 2nd position on the Billboard US Country Charts and became one of his most successful albums (Keystone/Getty Images)

His 1969 album ‘Sings the Country Music Hall of Fame Hits, Vol. 1’ reached the 2nd position on the Billboard US Country Charts and became one of his most successful albums. In terms of units sold, ‘Last Man Standing’, which was released in 2006, sold more than a million copies and claimed the number one spot on US Billboard Independent Albums.

‘Another Place, Another Time’, ‘Would You Take Another Chance On Me?’, ‘The Killer Rocks On’, ‘Who’s Gonna Play This Old Piano?’, ‘Sometimes a Memory Ain’t Enough’ are some of Lewis’ most successful albums.

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Apart from albums, he also started going on tours and was paid $10,000 per performance.

Awards and Achievements

Lewis received his Grammy Award in the spoken-word category for the very rare album of interviews released with some early copies of ‘Class of ‘55’ album in 1986. After that, the original cut of ‘Great Balls of Fire’ was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On’ received the same honor in 1999. In June 1989, Lewis was honored for his contribution to the recording industry with a star along Hollywood Boulevard on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

On the other hand, Lewis received the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters Award in October 2007.

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Debt and Bankruptcy

In 1988, Lewis filed for bankruptcy and listed more than $3 million in debts, including $2 million owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The debt listed in the petition includes $950,000 to George Cunningham and The Whiskey River Club in Nashville, “alleged attorney fees” of $40,000 to lawyer Irving Salky, $15,500 to Doctors Hospital in Memphis, $10,000 to St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, and a lot more.

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Musician Jerry Lee Lewis performs on stage during the
Musician Jerry Lee Lewis performs onstage during the 'I Walk The Line: A Night For Johnny Cash' musical tribute at the Pantages Theatre on October 25, 2005, in Los Angeles, California (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The news of bankruptcy came after IRS seized property from Lewis to compensate for a $274,000 tax debt. The property included several automobiles, a tractor, five motorcycles, jewelry, musical instruments, home entertainment equipment, and firearms.

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Net Worth

His music helped him earn a lot of money, but controversies marred his career and made him lose a lot of his fortune. As per Celebrity Net Worth, Jerry has an estimated net worth of $10 million.

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