Myra Williams talks about marriage at age 13 to Jerry Lee Lewis

When Myra Williams appears to be like again on her life — her marriage to her second cousin, singer Jerry Lee Lewis, in 1957 when she was simply 13 years previous, their good and dangerous instances collectively, the 2 youngsters that they had, the everlasting injury that their relationship inflicted on Lewis’ profession and legacy — she generally wonders whether or not it was all a dream.

“But it happened,” the now 78-year-old creator and former realtor tells The Instances by phone from her dwelling in Atlanta, someday after Lewis’ loss of life. “It did. It all happened to me.”

Every little thing “gigantic,” she says, occurred in her teenage years, cataloguing the milestones: married at 13, a mom at 14, the couple misplaced a toddler when she was 17, she had their second baby at 19.

“Yes, it was turbulent as a teenager to be a wife and mother,” Williams says. “But in going through it, I’ve found my strength. And there’s almost nothing that can knock me off my block at this point.”

Within the hours after Lewis died at age 87, obituaries of the rock ‘n’ roll legend flooded the web, every that includes a transitional paragraph noting that Lewis’ star fell as rapidly because it rose when his marriage to Williams turned public throughout a tour of Britain a 12 months after his debut album that includes the smash hit “Great Balls of Fire” rocketed to No. 2 on the pop charts.

“I was the bad thing in his life,” says Williams, describing how individuals noticed her. “It was because of our marriage that his career hit the pavement. You know, you were judged for everything you did back then.”

Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Lewis with their firstborn son, Steve Allen Lewis.


And that judgement was swift and fierce. Radio stations stopped taking part in Lewis’ music, his label, Solar Data, stopped selling it, and gives to carry out evaporated. It was so much for a younger woman to shoulder, Williams says, including that the misperception that plagued her then, holds true to today.

“I was called the child bride, but I was the adult and Jerry was the child,” says Williams. “When I look back on it, how can you defend yourself when you’re 13 years old? I mean there’s no excuse good enough for that to be okay.”

Williams says that she nonetheless took on all of the duties that got here together with her new position, “And I didn’t miss miss a beat. I took care of everything.”

She purchased the {couples}’ dwelling when Lewis was on the street, and in addition the automobile Lewis needed. He advised her to discover a pink Cadillac convertible, Williams remembers, and he or she did.

“I mean, I didn’t even have a drivers license,” she says. “I did all the work and made all the decisions and did all the running and taking care of business and that kind of stuff.”

Williams even managed the funds, she says.

“One time I went to the bank with a big sack of money to deposit it … and the teller said to me, ‘Myra, there’s a policeman sitting there outside in his car, and he followed you here. So when you get ready to leave, I’ll drive you home’,” she says.

The Cadillac stayed within the financial institution car parking zone that day.

Williams says medicine triggered irreparable injury to her marriage. Earlier than Lewis started utilizing medicine, she says, he was foolish, playful and type. The couple would have pillow fights, crack jokes and pull goofy pranks, like holding on to the doorknob from the opposite aspect of the door to cease one another from getting in. When the medicine turned a everlasting fixture, she says, Lewis modified.

“His personality just became mean. And nasty. It was like a whole different man. Just bad, you know?” she says.

Williams and Lewis divorced in 1970, with Williams submitting on the grounds of adultery and abuse. However they stayed in contact over time due to the bond they shared by their daughter, Phoebe Allen Lewis, whom Williams had when she was 17 years previous. The {couples}’ son, Steve Allen Lewis, drowned on the age of three.

Williams married briefly after that — a one-and-a-half 12 months romance that she described as “an absolute fiasco and stupid.” She has been married to her present husband, Richard Williams, for occurring 39 years now. The couple owns an actual property firm in Atlanta, however have each retired from day-to-day enterprise.

“We just putter around, you know, we don’t have to do anything,” she says, including that their workplace supervisor takes care of just about every little thing, and so they simply cease by the workplace each as soon as in awhile to talk. “We just live a real simple life of sleeping late and watching ‘I Love Lucy’.”

Myra Williams.

Myra Williams.

(Courtesy Myra Williams)

Williams did her finest to carry again tears when speaking about Lewis’ loss of life, which occurred a couple of weeks after the loss of life of her father, J.W. Brown, a musician in his personal proper, and Lewis’ first cousin. It was Brown who went to Natchez, Mississippi the place Lewis was residing as an unknown musician and introduced him to Memphis to file with Sam Phillips at Solar Data, says Williams. He additionally invited Lewis to stay in his dwelling along with his household, which is how Lewis and Williams fell in love.

When Brown heard the younger couple had eloped, “He got his gun,” says Williams. “That was not that was not a happy moment. Daddy felt very betrayed by that. I was his 13-year-old little girl.”

Brown went after Lewis, however Lewis was gone.

“The minute Daddy left the house, my mother called Sam Phillips and said, ‘Oh my God, you’re not gonna believe what’s happened, Sam’,” Williams says. “Mom said, ‘Jerry and Myra have gotten married. And Jay [J.W.] has his pistol. He’s on his way to Sun Records. You better get Jerry out of there.”

Phillips “ran Jerry off,” and advised him to get on a aircraft. He stated, “I don’t care where you go, just go,” Williams says.

Lewis stayed gone for 3 of 4 days, throughout which period Phillips sat Brown down and did his finest to calm him, Williams says.

“Sam Phillips was a real talker. Let’s put it that way. He could convince you that whatever you were seeing wasn’t there,” says Williams.

Brown got here to just accept the wedding after that, Williams says.

“There was just no choice. I mean, killing Jerry was not an option. It was his first thought, but it wasn’t an option,” she says.

When Lewis got here again, Brown shook his hand and stated, “You better be good to my girl.”

Williams stopped talking with Lewis after he married her ex-sister-in-law, Judith Brown, in 2012. It was a harm that reduce deep, Williams says. Judith had been a buddy and part of the household. (Brown was the previous spouse of Williams’ youthful sister.)

Williams isn’t certain when the final time she spoke with Lewis was, however says that she tried to contact him about in all probability two years in the past. She had requested Phoebe if it will be OK if she referred to as Lewis, and when she did, “I didn’t know what I was gonna say to him or tell him, and I made the call and he came to the phone, and I couldn’t talk, I hung up the phone.”

If Williams may give recommendation to her 13-year-old self, she says she has no concept what it may be.

“I wouldn’t go back and change it if I could,” she says. Then she stops and thinks for a second, and begins to snigger. “I might tweak it a little. I would tweak it a lot. I would tweak the hell out of it. I would be smarter.”

“But how smart can you be when you’re 14 years old?” she asks. “You’re a stupid kid at that age, you’re just not ready for it. You’re not ready for primetime.”