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Great balls of fire! It's me and my mate Jerry Lee.


Jerry Lee Lewis practises in his dressing room watched by Graham Rollason, right, and pal Pete Kelly

ROCK and roll heroes never die! Just ask Graham Rollason, who has been a fan - and friend - of legendary American performer Jerry Lee Lewis for half a century.

Graham, from Wyken, Coventry, first met the man behind such timeless rock 'n' roll classics as Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On when he bluffed his way into the star's dressing room during his UK tour in 1962.

The two of them became friends, with Graham on one occasion providing a motorbike escort across Birmingham to a gig in Kings Heath for six-times married Jerry Lee.

And the rock 'n' roll legend has been an inspiration for Graham, who is still playing in two bands himself in the Coventry and Warwickshire area, despite turning 68 earlier this month..

With two musically-minded sons, Paul, 39, and Stephen, 40, following in his footsteps, Graham said: "Jerry Lee Lewis is my rock and roll hero who inspired me to take up singing in 1957.

"I saw him many times when he came to England and we became personal friends." He added: "I first met him in 1962 at De Montfort Hall in Leicester when we managed to get into the dressing room.

"He was really friendly and ever since then I have seen him many, many times, all over the country, whenever he has come to England.

"I joined the fan club in the 1950s and am still a member today.

"When he first came to Birmingham he would play at the Plaza ballroom in Handsworth and the Ritz ballroom in

Kings Heath, sometimes on the same night.

"On one occasion, his chauffeur even followed us from the Plaza to Kings Heath with me sat on the back of my mate's motorbike because he wasn't sure of the way.

"I couldn't believe that he was there, sat in the car behind us, whenever I turned around." Graham, a former supervisor at Rolls Royce from where he took early retirement, said Jerry Lee was still the greatest rock and roller.

"He inspired me to take up singing and also play the bass guitar, which I still do for two 1960s rock 'n roll bands - Phil King and the Royals, which are based in Warwick, and the Bosscats, from Coventry.

"My son Paul, who has been playing

Have you bumped into celebrities? Or forged friendships with the famous? Tell us about your encounters with the stars. Write to: Mercury Nostalgia, Sunday Mercury, Floor 6, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FF. Or you can email MercuryNostalgia TELL US ABOUT YOUR BRUSHES WITH FAME....


with me since he was 12, plays lead guitar for the Bosscats, while Stephen has just taken up the saxophone." Jerry Lee Lewis practises in his dressing room by Graham right, and pal Pete Graham Rollason at home today and below, with his cycling pals in his youth.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 14, 2009
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