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Iggy Pop performs “Real Wild Child” (AKA “Wild One”), 1986

As far as I can tell, this is the nearest connection I can make between Bowie and Jerry Lee Lewis, who died on October 28th. The connection is tenuous— Bowie co-produced Iggy Pop’s album, “Blah Blah Blah,” and this song was on it, so Bowie co-produced this song. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the song in 1958 (though he didn’t get around to releasing it until 1974). The song has been covered many times by many artists, and Lewis’s version was itself a cover: it was first performed by Australian rocker Johnny O’Keefe and is considered the fist Australian rock song.

Anyway, I have never seen either Iggy’s Pop or Jerry Lee Lewis live in concert and up until a few days ago I would have probably listed them as #1 and #2 in terms of living performers I’d like to see. My Jerry Lee Lewis story is that my wife (Michelle) and I were having dinner a few years ago and talking about how technology was that the point that we can pretty much plan to do anything on a whim. The notion led us to decide to see if Jerry Lee Lewis was performing anywhere, and then get tickets to that shown airfare and a hotel then and there. It turned out that Lewis was schedule to play a big concert in Memphis and, as we had discussed, we made arrangements on our phones, on the spot.

Unfortunately, between the time we made the plan and the scheduled date of the concert, Lewis had a stroke (in February 2019) and I don’t think he performed again. So we missed out chance, and now it will never happen.

As far as I can tell, Bowie never covered a Jerry Lee Lewis song himself, and Jerry Lee never covered Bowie. That said, I think it is safe to say that that Lewis had enough influence on the evolution of rock music that he influenced Bowie, even if indirectly. His performing career started well before Bowie’s, and it ended years after Bowie’s death (he released an album this year!) His flamboyance, hyperactivity and barely disguised sexuality had to have been somewhere in Bowie’s mind as he formed his own various identities.

As for, “Real Wild Child,” Jerry Lee’s version is far wilder than Iggy’s. The video gives hints about how wild Iggy could get, but for the most part his version of the song is ironically tame.

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