Jerry Lee Lewis is rightly remembered for being a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, but his country music catalog is impressive. It was country that brought him back after crippling personal decision in the late 1950s, and for the next two decades “The Killer” would notch more than 20 Top 10 hits on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart.
“Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” are inevitably the No. 1 and No. 2 songs on ever list of Jerry Lee Lewis’ best songs, although sometimes the order gets mixed up. Both were crossover hits that made him an international superstar in a matter of months — this was pre-Spotify, remember.
In 1958, Lewis and his new wife Myra showed up in London together, and a local photographer was struck by her youthful visage. She was just a teenager at that time — in fact, they married when she was 13 — and this scandal led to a decade of struggles for the singer. During this time he’d release covers of country songs (Hank Williams “Cold, Cold Heart”) and rock ‘n’ rollers (Little Richards “Good Golly Miss Molly”), but most floundered.
Covers were a critical part of Lewis’ show, however, and this list reflects that. He didn’t write many of his best songs and often repurposed great singles from Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Williams and more. Perhaps it was appropriate. In 1956 Lewis began his career with a song that would become a hit for someone else, Ray Price‘s “Crazy Arms.” When it was time for his comeback, it was another country song: “Another Place, Another Time,” which had also been released by Del Reeves.
Lewis died on Oct. 28, 2022 at age 87. Just 12 days prior, he became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, making him just one of a handful of artists to be enshrined there as well as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Billboard lists 55 charting country songs and four No. 1 hits. Here are his 10 best.
Jerry Lee Lewis’ Top 10 Country Songs:
No. 10: “Breathless” (1958)
Any list of great Jerry Lee Lewis songs needs to start and end with his early-career crossover hits. “Breathless” is a little cheesy by comparison, but still a bop in 2022.
No. 9: “There Must Be More to Love Than This” (1970)
Lewis was hot again amidst a streak of nine straight Top 10 hits when he dropped this steel guitar-saturated breakup song in 1970.
No. 8: “To Make Love Sweeter for You” (1968)
“To Make Love Sweeter for You” proves the wild man could sing a great love song, but if we’re being honest, it’s not what he did best.
No. 7: “Boogie Woogie Country Man” (1975)
You know, not many would call “Boogie Woogie Country Man” a Top 10 Jerry Lee Lewis song, but his collection is so diverse you’re bound to have 10 different favorites than your neighbor. We can’t stop this Top 30 song from 1975.
No. 6: “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” (1971)
This under-appreciated vocal performance from 1971 hit No. 1 for Lewis on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
No. 5: “Middle Age Crazy” (1977)
This is the newest song on our list of Jerry Lee Lewis’ best songs, and it’s a keeper. “Middle Age Crazy” is the song Lee Ann Womack selected to sing during Lewis’ Country Music Hall of Fame induction. Could this be his all-time best lyric?
No. 4: “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)” (1968)
Lewis gave better vocal performances and certainly more exciting songs (see the Top 3 on this list), but this hit from 1968 is a stone-cold-country staple.
No. 3: “Chantilly Lace” (1972)
We’d listen to arguments that Jerry Lee Lewis’ cover of the Big Bopper’s hit was his No. 1 song. In 1972, he gave the rock ‘n’ roller new life.
No. 2: “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” (1957)
To appreciate Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On,” you have to see him perform it live.
No. 1: “Great Balls of Fire” 1957)
Was there really any other choice for the No. 1 Jerry Lee Lewis song?
Jerry Lee Lewis Through the Years: Photo Gallery
There’s a whole lotta shakin’ (and more) goin’ on here