Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

FRIDAY

Who’s more of a badass: Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis Presley? At first, the comparison seems unbalanced, the rock equivalent of the Stand by Me argument over who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse and Superman. Elvis is the King and Jerry Lee is just the one-hit-wonder hick who married his 13-year-old cousin, right? Let’s take a look. Elvis caused quite a controversy with his pelvic gyrations. Jerry Lee, on the other hand, practically molested the piano during every song and, with his cathartic bench-kicking, started the rock ’n’ roll tradition of disrespecting one’s equipment. Music scribe Peter Guralnick’s definitive bio of the King required two hefty volumes. The much-cooler Nick Tosches needed a mere 276 pages to capture the kid from Ferriday, La., in Hellfire—a rock bio that rivals even The Dirt. Elvis’ hit singles sounded sweet: “Love Me Tender,” “Teddy Bear,” “Baby Let’s Play House.” Jerry Lee managed to make punk rock practically irrelevant with the crude power of “Meat Man,” from his 1974 comeback record, Southern Roots. Elvis needed the Memphis Mafia to do his dirty work. Jerry Lee has lost more wives under suspicious circumstances than Claus von Bulow and Robert Blake combined. (And the man still had the great, fiery balls to continue calling himself “the Killer.”) And there is, of course, the final test: Jerry Lee, despite gobbling mountains of powders and pills, has made it to the age of 70—unlike a certain monarch who couldn’t handle his candy. Lewis performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. $50–$125. (301) 581-5100. (David Dunlap Jr.)