It was the most remarkable of meetings, and yet somehow it has slipped under the radar – until now.
Million Dollar Quartet – the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and West End hit – tells the story at Chichester Festival Theatre from November 7-11.
Martin Kemp is cast as record producer Sam Phillips, the man who brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins for a famed recording session which created music history.
The show brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits which bring you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ‘n’ roll band for one unforgettable night
Playing Jerry Lee Lewis will be Martin Kaye.
“It was one of the strangest and most special meetings,” Martin says. “I don’t know why it has gone under the radar. Elvis had just done Love Me Tender, the film. He was a big name. Johnny Cash by that time had just released Walk The Line and was starting to become a big name. Jerry Lee Lewis was a complete unknown. But these were all important people. Paul McCartney has said there wouldn’t have been Beatles without Carl Perkins.”
Martin admits he had no idea what Jerry Lee Lewis looked like before doing the show: “And then I started watching the videos, and I just thought ‘What!’ I had no idea if he was black or what really, and then you just hear his music. I loved it. It’s his energy and his wildness… his wild abandon in all departments. He was a bit of a loose cannon musically but also had amazing ability.”
He certainly led a remarkable life: “He came and did a certain amount of touring in the UK. His marriage to his 13-year-old cousin was not long before he came to the UK. He did two dates, and then the press got wind of it, and it all blew up in his face!”
He went from earning the big money to earning nothing much at all: “But he reinvented himself and he is still going strong. He is 81 and is the last man standing. He has made a massive career, and I have developed an affection for him I have been playing him so long… though obviously I would not condone marrying your 13-year-old cousin! He is actually now on his seventh wife.
“I have been doing the show for more than five years. My first taste of it was on the US tour back in September 2011.”
After that he moved on to Las Vegas where he spent three and a half years in the show as the sole Brit: “But when you can do the accent, it doesn’t really matter! I found it odd that they hired me in the first place. I thought there were all these Americans that could do it. But it is a great role and I have fun doing it.”
Tickets on www.cft.org.uk.