If there are two men who are directly responsible for heating up the dance floor, it's Jerry Lee Lewis and Chubby Checker. Lewis would use his fingers while Checker would use his feet. On April 10, they join forces for a double bill at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury.
This duo will take Long Island back to the late '50s and early '60s when Lewis had a "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" and Checker was doing "The Twist." Tip: Catch these gentlemen before they retire. You dig?
Jerry Lee Lewis
The Killer still has some fire left in his belly. Just listen to his latest album, "Rock & Roll Time" and you'll be convinced he's not done yet.
"I was trying some stuff out to see if the people would like it," says Lewis, 79. "So far, so good."
On the album, Lewis puts his boogie woogie stamp on compositions from Chuck Berry ("Promised Land," "Little Queenie"), Bob Dylan ("Stepchild") and Kris Kristofferson ("Here Comes That Rainbow Again," "Rock & Roll Time"). His style developed at a young age when his parents sent him to the Southwest Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas, where Lewis got creative with the keys when he was asked to play "My God Is Real" at an assembly.
"I put it at a different speed," recalls Lewis. "The dean didn't like it too much but the kids loved it."
Since then this rock and roll rebel has been known for his raucous live shows, which he promises are "better than they've been in a long time."
"I can't jump up and do a lot of kicking and running because I've gotten a little older," says Lewis. "But I enjoy sitting at the piano doing my hit records and lifting the audience up as I always did."
One of his signature moves back in the day was playing the piano at such fever pitch he'd kick the stool out from underneath him during "Great Balls of Fire."
"I wanted to try it so I kicked it back. It kind of got caught in my boot a little bit. I didn't mean to turn it over but it went flying," says Lewis. "The crowd went crazy so we kept in the act."
Lewis has been on a comeback, which began in 2006 with "Last Man Standing" followed by 2010's "Mean Old Man" up to "Rock & Roll Time" released last year.
"I don't know. It just seemed to happen," says Lewis. "All of a sudden Jerry Lee Lewis was in popular demand."
He even put out a book, "Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story" penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Rick Bragg.
"I thought it was time that the truth be told about me," says Lewis. "I've read these other books that were written without my authorization and it's just a bunch of junk that wasn't true."
The 1989 biopic, "Great Balls of Fire" starring Dennis Quaid, wasn't something Lewis approved of.
"Bad news -- I didn't like it too much," says Lewis. "It didn't really tell my life story the way it should have."
On Sept. 29, Lewis will be celebrating his 80th birthday. However, he doesn't have any specific plans for the milestone.
"I just thank God I have another birthday coming up," says Lewis, who resides in Mississippi with his seventh wife, Judith. "I've had so many birthdays I have a hard time keeping up with them."
When he was a teenager working in a poultry market in downtown Philadelphia, Checker, then known as Ernest Evans, would sing to bring customers into the store. By age 17, he scored a novelty hit with "The Class," on which he did imitations of Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.
But Checker's massive fame didn't come until he recorded a cover of Hank Ballard's R&B hit, "The Twist." The song was put on the B-side of a single called, "Toot."
"A DJ in Pittsburgh named Porky Chedwick turned the record over to 'The Twist,' " says Checker, 73. "The phone calls started coming in. After that it was history."
The song went to the top of the charts in 1960 then again in 1962. Checker's 1960 appearance on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" solidified the dance craze.
"All we did was slow down the beat and the boogie was born," says Checker. "It changed everything."
In the next few years several sequels were released, including "Let's Twist Again" and "Twistin' U.S.A." in 1961, "Slow Twistin' " (with Dee Dee Sharp) in 1962 and "Twist It Up" in 1963. Checker also had hits with other dance songs like "The Hucklebuck," "The Fly," "The Shake," "Limbo Rock" and "It's Pony Time."
" 'The Twist' is my Mickey Mouse. 'The Fly' is my Snow White and 'Let's Twist Again' is my Donald Duck," says Checker. "These are my characters and they are all on the dance floor."
Despite all of his success, Checker still has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, he remains unfazed.
"I'm not interested in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," says Checker. "What disturbs me is that my music is not being played on mainstream radio. It bothers me very badly. I have the No. 1 song on the planet. I want people to know it and hear it!"
These days, Checker connects with fans through his live shows, where the crowd age ranges from 4 to 94.
"When people come to my shows they get nuts and anything can happen," says Checker. "Don't expect to sit down and not have any fun. From the minute I go on to the minute I leave, you'll never be bored."
WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m., April 10, NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.
INFO $49.50-$59.50, 800-745-3000, livenation.com
Editor's note: This show has been canceled.