Jerry Lee Lewis’ Biggest Billboard Hits: ‘Great Balls of Fire’ & More

As previously reported, Jerry Lee Lewis, the piano-pounding rock, country and pop culture icon, and the last surviving member of the inaugural (1986) class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died, at age 87. His passing was announced Friday (Oct. 28).

Also a 2022 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Lewis is one of just 16 talents to have been inducted into both the Country and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.

“No one wanted to follow Jerry Lee on stage,” Johnny Cash once said. “Not even Elvis.”


Born Sept. 19, 1935, in Louisiana, Lewis moved to Memphis, Tenn., in 1956 and made his Billboard chart debut in 1957. That June, “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On” entered multiple surveys, reigning for two weeks beginning Sept. 9, 1957, on the C&W Best Sellers in Stores country chart. It also reached No. 3 on the all-genre Best Sellers in Stores and Top 100 charts.

Lewis followed with another signature classic, “Great Balls of Fire,” which also logged two weeks at No. 1 on C&W Best Sellers in Stores, starting Jan. 6, 1958. The song became his highest charting multi-genre hit, reaching No. 2 on Best Sellers in Stores and the Top 100.

Lewis landed one more all-format top 10, “Breathless,” which climbed to No. 7 on the Top 100 in 1958. Following the Aug. 4, 1958, inception of the Billboard Hot 100, Lewis charted 14 entries, led by the No. 30-peaking “What’d I Say” (billed as by Jerry Lee Lewis and His Pumping Piano) in 1961. He last appeared on the Hot 100 in June 1973.

On the Hot Country Songs chart, following his country crossover smashes “Shakin’ ” and “Fire,” Lewis led with “To Make Love Sweeter for You” (1969), “There Must Be More to Love Than This” (1970), “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” (1971) and “Chantilly Lace” (1972). From 1968 through 1981, Lewis notched 23 Hot Country Songs top 10s, from “Another Place Another Time” through “Thirty Nine and Holding,” while he continued to appear on the chart through 1989.

On the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, Lewis’ span of entries stretches over 50 years, from 1964 through 2014. He tallied three top 40 titles on the chart in his lifetime: The Session (No. 37, 1973), Last Man Standing: The Duets (No. 26, 2006) and Mean Old Man (No. 30, 2010).

Lewis also logged 17 top 10s on the Top Country Albums chart, most recently rising to No. 4 with Last Man Standing: The Duets in 2006.

Gary Trust