After suffering a stroke last year that paralyzed his right hand, Jerry Lee Lewis he can play the piano again.
Lewis recalled to Rolling Stone the miraculous circumstances in which he started rocking again.
Last month, for the first time in five years, Lewis booked a recording session. His idea was to do an album of gospel classics he grew up hearing. He would sing for the album but not play piano.
Lewis didn't even want a piano in the studio with him, but the engineers left it.
Of course during the first session, Lewis was drawn to the instrument. He sat on the stool, and as a force of habit, put his right hand on the keys.
To his surprise, the fingers started moving.
"I couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it," Lewis reflected to Rolling Stone. "I never experienced anything like that. There I was playing piano with my right hand. I thought I would never play again."
Lewis had not played piano since February of 2019 when he had his stroke. Though his team initially described the episode as "minor," it proved to be serious, leaving him with mobility issues.
He spent three months in a rehab facility relearning how to walk and trying in vain to regain the use of this right hand.
After his epiphany last month, Lewis spent two more weeks in the studio recording his album with a band and playing the piano again. Lewis was so gobsmacked by his returning abilities, he admits it took him some time to loosen up.
Producer T-Bone Burnett wasn't sure what he was witnessing.
"I was in shock, for starters, that we were even there," he said. "[Jerry] went from saying, 'I can't play piano,' to sitting down, picking up his right hand and playing. His family all welled up. That's the power of love, you know?"
Lewis does not remember the stroke, only waking up in the hospital. he says his recovery has been hard, and it's not over yet. It took "some heavy praying" for him to get back on an upward trajectory.
His wife, Judith, adds that the emphasis on rehabilitation has done wonders for her husband.
"In reality, his health is better now that it's been in the past five or six years," she said, noting that Lewis no longer needs to tote oxygen around, which he did for about three years.
Lewis isn't ready to perform again, but he says he and his management are "thinking about it." Most of all, he's happy to be able to play music again.
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