Jerry Lee Lewis delivered a heartfelt note as he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday evening (October 16), though the music legend was unable to attend the Medallion Ceremony in person due to health reasons.
Lewis, 87, was one of three inductees in the 2022 class, along with late singer-songwriter Keith Whitley and industry executive Joe Galante. Hank Williams Jr. paid tribute to the “Great Balls of Fire” star during the ceremony at the Hall of Fame’s CMA Theater, and read a note from Lewis:
“Dear friends and fans in Nashville, it is with heartfelt sadness and disappointment that I write to you today from my sickbed. Rather than be able to share my thoughts in person, I tried everything I could to build up the strength to come today. I’ve looked so forward to it since I found out about it earlier this year. My sincerest apology to all of you for missing this fine event, but I hope to see you all soon. To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honor in country music. Through over 60 years singing music professionally, country has always been the genre where I felt the most at home, between my fellow artists, radio and the industry players. I’m honored to be going into that Hall of Fame rotunda with some of my heroes: Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers and the like. Not to mention so many amazing friends who have been so good to me through the years. Thank you all for your support and love in electing me into the Country Music Hall of Fame. And most of all, thanks to God for allowing me to experience this honor while I’m still here. Since I could not be in person with you today, I’ve asked one of my closest and dearest friends to accept this great honor for me… the legendary Kris Kristofferson.”
Kristofferson and Williams were on stage as Lewis’ medallion and plaque were presented at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Lewis’ friends and relatives, including wife Judith Lewis, attended the ceremony in his honor.
Others paid tribute to Lewis and his legendary career in addition to Williams and Kristofferson. Lee Ann Womack, The McCrary Sisters and Chris Isaak delivered powerful performances (“Middle Age Crazy,” “My God Is Real” and “Great Balls of Fire,” respectively).
“An explosive rockabilly showman, Jerry Lee Lewis was also among country music’s most expressive performers, with a distinctive and dynamic style as a singer and pianist. His biggest releases on Sun Records, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire,’ were country #1s as well as pop hits,” reads a press release from the Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday morning (October 17). “In the late 1960s, the Louisiana native shifted from rock & roll to country recordings, invigorating his artistry. Between 1968 and 1981, he had 34 Top 20 country hits, putting his personal stamp on songs ranging from classics by Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams to newer works by Mickey Newbury and Kris Kristofferson.”
The evening was full of powerful performances and heartfelt tributes to each of the inductees. Read more of the memorable moments here. Find out more about the inductees, including Lewis, from the Country Music Hall of Fame.