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Kenny and The Killer

July 1974 Los Angeles, California

The glow of the California sun is replaced by a red light emitting from the Roxy Theater sign. Any music fanatic knows that West Hollywood in the 1970s means rock and roll music was flowing through the streets like the warm summer breeze. The marquee read “An evening with Jerry Lee Lewis,” who was coming in from his private jet with his band. Lewis had transitioned from country to rock and roll not long before this show, but one thing stayed consistent through that decade and many after.... Kenny Lovelace.

The legend behind the legends


1950 Florence, Alabama

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The latest issue Florence Times rested in 14-year-old Kenny Lovelace's hands as he beamed with pride. Young Lovelace 

looked down at his photo immortalized in print celebrating his victorious win in the Alabama Fiddlers Championship.

This award represented his accomplishment, but also the time, sacrifices, and undying love of music his family had gifted him.

As he looked at the photo he remembered the jam sessions with his older sister,

his mother’s flat back mandolin leaning against the bed and his father tirelessly working 

at the farm to save enough money for a two-stringed fiddle.

The strength of the Lovelace family stuck with Kenny throughout his musical journey, especially in the beginning. Along with starting his high school career, he also started his music career with the Go-Go Boys. In a band with five or six members, three of them

were Lovelace boys. Kenny and the band were playing regularly at sock hops when his

Aunt Christine got them booked at a country club in Birmingham, Alabama. Things changed for the band over the next few years and the original lead singer Junior Thompson quit. The band eventually changed its name to the Five Jets and their country style became more versatile. Kenny and the band went full-time at the country clubs once he graduated from high school.

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1955 Memphis, Tennessee

Sun Records was a recording studio that housed many of the greatest artists of all time, especially within the rock and country umbrella. Within the first three years in the company the founder, Sam

Phillips, had already sealed contracts with several artists such as Elvis, Johnny

Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Phillips was a legendary executive, had terrific instincts in the industry and was also Kenny Lovelace’s second cousin.

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Kenny traveled down to Memphis, Tennessee to play in one of his first studio produced songs. Bill Castle and Kenny played twin fiddles for Maggie Sue Wimberly’s record; little did Kenny know he would soon be back at that studio soon after with one of the Sun Records legends.

1962 Louisiana

The Five Jets had been booked all over the South through their colleague Ross Russell. After bouncing around supper clubs and events, they eventually ended up at Stork Supper Club in Bossier City. The booker started off by giving them a two-week slot, but due to their overwhelming popularity they ended up playing there for over four years.

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The four-year stint subsequently ended, so they traveled to Monroe to play at the Rendezvous Club. After two years of playing at Rendezvous, Kenny Lovelace was introduced to a young singer from Ferriday, Louisiana named Linda Lewis.Linda asked the Five Jets to back her during her first performance, and many after. Impressed by the band's skill, Linda told her brother Jerry Lee 

Lewis that he should come see a show when his tour passed through Louisiana.One night the band gets on stage to back Linda Lewis’ performance, when Kenny Lovelace sees Jerry Lee Lewis in the front row. Kenny shook off the nerves and played the show with everything he had. After their performance with Linda and the Five Jets stand-alone performance, Jerry Lee Lewis told them he was interested in hiring the whole lot. 

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After 12 years of touring and being away from family, all the Five Jets members except for Kenny respectfully declined. The band assured Kenny that they didn’t mind if he went along with Jerry, so a few months later he began his journey as a legend behind the legends.

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In the afterglow of the spotlight


July 1974 Los Angeles, California

The Roxy Theatre stage lit up and Lewis’ piano sat in the center of the other instruments. The crowd was eager to see the western rock and country mixture concocted by Jerry Lee Lewis himself. He began sliding his hands across the piano as he belted out the classic “Great Balls of Fire.” Kenny Lovelace shredded on the guitar as marijuana smoke and cheering bellowed out from the crowd. Lovelace set aside his fiddle once Lewis transitioned to rock and roll, but he never lost his love for country music. Jerry Lewis, 

Linda Lewis and the band sat in the dressing room after the show had wrapped up. As chatter filled the room, they heard a knock at the door. Behind it they found one of the Beatles, John Lennon. Lennon silently walked in, knelt in front of Jerry, kissed his feet and left. Lovelace bore witness to one of the leading musicians of the century kissing the feet of the man he played for.

Kenny Lovelace went on to play with Jerry Lee Lewis for decades. After years of playing behind a lead, nobody kissed Lovelace’s feet. The spotlight wasn’t pointed towards him, but it didn’t matter. 

Lovelace adored music since he was old enough to verbalize it. It wasn’t about fame or fortune; it was about pursuing the passion of the young southern fiddle player inside him.

“But just country stuff I love,” Kenny Lovelace said. “We have to say goodbye was a great, great country song.... I just love them all, but there’s some special ones like that, ya know?”

Story by, Aiden O'Neill, MTN Reporter 

March 9th, 2024

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Kenny Lovelace with Producer Rolf Bresser 

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In this story, Kenny Lovelace describes his close relationship with his German producer and dear friend, Rolf Bresser. Kenny tells the story of how Rolf prompted him to record two more albums and how the albums were produced. 

Story by, Drake Pugh, MTN Reporter 

March 9th, 2024

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This project was created entirely by students at the College of Media and Entertainment under close advisement of Mr. Dan Eschenfelder, Instructor at Middle Tennessee State University.  Students earned credit as Practicum, and many were volunteers.  Using a pedagogical approach, students from the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, Media Arts and Recording Industry all participated in this multimedia effort learning how to produce a high-quality video news story, audio news story, graphic design, print news story, infographics and website design and promote their hard work with story pushes using social media. 


Karli Sutton, Executive Producer, Researcher, Videographer, Video Editor

Drake Pugh, Executive Producer, Researcher, Audio News Story Producer

Kira Fullington, Producer, Researcher, Videographer, Website Designer, Social Media

Ryan Martinolich, Producer, Researcher, Videographer

Cameron Eschenfelder, Videographer, Video Editor

Grant Langston, Videographer, Video Editor

Serena Vasudeva, Researcher, Videographer

Mickaela Sandlin, Videographer, Infographics

Liv Rapier, Videographer

Kerstie Wolaver, Videographer

Alexis Phipps, Videographer

Molly More, Video Editor

Aiden O'Neill, Print Story Author

Addison Conley, Graphic Designer

Chyann Trotter, Researcher

Liliana Manyara, Researcher


Dan Eschenfelder, Faculty Advisor


©2024 Middle Tennessee News

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