Elopement Wedding

Jerry Lee Lewis’ 13-year-old cousin bride breaks silence after his death

Since his passing last week, people have been remembering rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis.

Including his marriage, to h his 13-year-old cousin Myra Williams.

The teen, who was Jerry’s second cousin once removed, was nine years Jerry’s junior when they eloped, and went on to have two children together.

Following the rock pioneer’s death, Myra, now 78, has spoken out about her life as Jerry Lee Lewis’s child bride, the harsh judgment she faced from the public, and the abuse she suffered behind closed doors.

Williams also covered their marriage in the 1982 book Great Balls of Fire which was adapted into a 1989 film starring Dennis Quaid as Lewis and Winona Ryder as Williams.

Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousin-bride (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Many would remember that it was Myra and Jerry’s controversial marriage in 1957 that wound up killing the musician’s climb up the charts.

When news broke of the wedding, Jerry was essentially canceled in the media and torn apart in the press, while all music promo and tour dates dried out.

“I was the bad thing in his life”, Myra told the Los Angeles Times following Lewis’s death on Friday (October 28).

“It was because of our marriage that his career hit the pavement. You know, you were judged for everything you did back then.”

While newspapers described Myra as a ‘child bride’ at the time, she insists that, during their marriage ‘I was the adult and Jerry was the child’.

The relationship caused even more controversy when it was discovered that Myra was Jerry Lee’s cousin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Myra, who divorced Jerry in 1970, explained that she was the one who was responsible for their finances including buying their homes and caring for the two children they shared together, despite the age gap.

“I mean, I didn’t even have a driver’s license,” she said. “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.”

Myra said that when her father found out about her marriage to Jerry, he ‘got his gun.’

She recalled: “That was not a happy moment. Daddy felt very betrayed by that. I was his 13-year-old little girl.”

Eventually though, Myra’s dad came around and accepted the marriage.

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

American actor Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis and Winona Ryder as his underage wife Myra Gale Brown in the film ‘Great Balls of Fire!’, a biopic of the famous rock ‘n’ roll musician, 1989. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

Speaking of the break down of their marriage: “His personality just became mean. And nasty. It was like a whole different man. Just bad, you know?”

Myra filed for divorce in 1970 on the grounds of adultery and abuse.

Despite the controversy surrounding their relationship from start to finish, Myra insisted that she wouldn’t go back and change it.

“I might tweak it a little. I would tweak it a lot. I would tweak the hell out of it. I would be smarter,” she joked.

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

Myra went on to be a real estate guru and an author and also re-married twice. Her second marriage was an 18-month fling that she described as an ‘absolute fiasco’ and then to her husband of 39 years Richard Williams.

Jerry wound up marrying four more times before his death.

Related links