12. February 1972 - Houston, TX - The Apollo 14 Honour

On 12. February 1972 Jerry Lee Lewis received quite an honor when he played Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, TX.
The first music ever played on the moon was Jerry Lee´s, because he´d recorded a special 30 minutes tape for the astronauts of the recent Apollo 14 flight to the moon (31.January 1971 - 09.February 1971).
Air Force Lt. Colonel Stuart Roosa initiated the request to DJ Bill Bailey of KIKK Radio and Jerry Lee recorded a special cassette tape for Roosa, Mitchell and Shepherd.
At his show in Houston he now received autographed photos of the flight and a letter of thanks from the astronauts, mounted on a plaque with a flag that went to the moon.

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Air Force Lt. Colonel Roosa presented Jerry with a small United States flag which they´d taken with them in the Apollo space ship and which had travelled 1,151,086 miles during the round trip!

US Fan Club Newletter:
On Saturday February 12, Jerry appeared at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. He´d been on stage about ten minutes when his show was interrupted by KIKK´s top disk jockey, Bill Bailey, who walked on stage and told Jerry and the audience - ´I have a surprise for you.´
Bill went on to explain to the crowd that a year before, Jerry had been asked by the astronauts of Apollo 14 (the famous moon flight where for the first time the astronauts had travelled the surface of the moon in a ´moon buggy´) to provide a tape of some of his songs to entertain the astronauts during their long flight. Jerry had been asked to keep the project entirely secret ­which was why there was no newspaper coverage at the time. If word were to leak out, then they would not be able to take his tape to the moon. Jerry, a great admirer of these boys, was happy to oblige. He booked a recording studio in Memphis (Fame Studio - TR) at his own expense, and sat at the piano talking and joking to the astronauts, and playing a few piano licks. Most of the songs he included were from his albums, but he did perform one song (a Hank Williams number) live - even though he had no musicians with him, and just used his own piano accompaniment. The tape was edited together, and sent to Bill Bailey, who arranged for it to be included in the Apollo 14. After the successful flight, the three fliers wrote an appreciative letter to Jerry, and sent him two autographed pictures, signed by Captain Stuart Roosa, Ed Mitchell, and Alan Shepherd.
Now on stage at the Coliseum, Bill Bailey introduced Stu Roosa, who - after prolonged applause - made a speech and presented Jerry with a small United States flag which they’d taken with them in the Apollo space ship and which had travelled 1,151,086 miles during the round trip! With the flag, which was mounted on a plaque, was a letter giving the distance and time of the moon-flight, and once again thanking Jerry for helping to entertain them on the flight.
Jerry said afterwards: ´This gift is priceless. I wouldn´t take a million dollars for it.´

Billboard, 18. March 1972:
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On the wall at Killers ranch in Nesbit is a letter from astronaut Stuart Roosa, dated 25 May 1971:
´Dear Mr Lewis, Our most heartfelt thank you for the tremendous tape you cut for me to take on Apollo 14. I can´t really describe how much it meant to me to have your music on board when we were 240,000 miles from home and the Earth had shrunk to a tiny ball.´

Music City News, April 1972
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Lewis Scene No.9, page 15, May 1973:
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There seems to be considerable interest in the special tape which Jerry cut for the crew of Apollo 14´s (Stuart Roosa, Ed Mitchell and Alan Shepherd) entertainment on their journey.
The special cassette travelled the full 1,151,086 miles on the round trip to the moon. It was greatly appreciated it seems since on 12. February 1972 at Houston Texas they presented Jerry with a small United States flag which had also made the round trip. This was mounted on a plaque with a letter giving the details of the flight and expressing the crew´s appreciation.

We keep being asked ´What´s on the tape?´ so….

The tape-opens with Jerry tinkling on the piano as he greets and encourages the crew – ´Looking forward to your return, here´s an uptempo tune to speed you on your way”.
Up comes: SAN ANTONIO ROSES (from Live At The International).
Jerry dedicates the next to Captain Stu.
Into WAITING FOR A TRAIN (from She Even Woke Me Up).
´Like to do a duet here which seems appropriate´, it´s WE LIVE IN TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS (from Together).
Without introduction the tape goes into GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME (from All Country).
´That´s a number which Tom Jones made famous with my help!´
Talking of Tom Jones …, he goes into GREAT BALLS OF FIRE (from the This is Tom Jones television sound track).
Then the high spot - the live recording. Just Jerry and the piano as he does Hank Williams´s l CAN´T HELP IT (IF I´M STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU).
This is beautiful, the piano does it all behind Jerry´s voice which is crystal clear and almost lilts.
The tape closes with ´A very very fine song we used to do in church back in Louisiana´.
Appropriately it´s I´LL FLY AWAY (from In Loving Memories)

Many Thanks to:
Pierre Pennone

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