The Town Talk (Alexandria, LA) news article published April 15, 2012

Posted by: J.D. Davis @ 04:09PM on 04/17/2012
The Town Talk (Alexandria, LA) news article published April 15, 2012
Thank you to Jodi Belgard and The Town Talk for the following article on Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley.
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'Unconquered' tells story of cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley

J.D. Davis grew up in the rural east Texas town of Quitman, one not unlike the Concordia Parish town of Ferriday.

It was a staunch conservative Christian community that could have easily produced a rock and roller, a holy roller and that one guy who perfectly splits the difference.

That's why Davis, a finance and business executive by trade, decided to tell the story of north Louisiana trinity: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart.

Davis did research for his first book for three years. He formed close relationships with the Lewis family, and even developed a friendship with Mickey Gilley.

"Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley" will officially launch April 28 with a booksigning at the Natchez City Auditorium in Natchez, Miss., just across the Mississippi River from the former stomping grounds of Lewis, Gilley and Swaggart in Ferriday and Vidalia.

The event will feature a concert by Jerry Lee's sister, Linda Gail Lewis. Gilley will close the show.

Davis, who now lives in Dallas, spoke to The Town Talk about the book.

Town Talk: Coming from the world of finance and business, what made you want to write a book about these three guys from Concordia Parish?

Davis: "I've been a fan of these guys' music for decades - going back to childhood. This book is my first book, and it's a significant departure from my training. And even among people who've never heard of (Lewis, Gilley and Swaggart), just the story itself was just a fascinating human interest story about the Depression and post-Depression south, and growing up in such a close family."

TT: How is this book different from any others about Lewis, Gilley and Swaggart?

Davis: "What surprised me is that while a lot has been written about any of these three, there has not really been any effort to combine the three. I'm a little surprised, frankly, that their story hasn't already been written. (A person's) understanding any of the three becomes thoroughly enhanced with the understanding of all three. What most people don't realize is how close in age they are -- they were born within 12 months of each other -- and how close the families were. In particular, Jerry and Jimmy are double first cousins. Their mothers were sisters, and their granparents were brother and sister. Those two almost have the same DNA. While Jerry became the rock and roll icon, he was always conflicted (with religion). I've heard it said that Jerry and Jimmy are like different sides of the same coin.

TT: What about Mickey Gilley?

Davis: "Mickey Gilley is an interesting twist in all this. He is genuinely a nice guy. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that he didn't achieve his first No. 1 hit until he was 38 years old."

TT: Have you developed relationships with all three of them?

Davis: "I've developed a friendship with Mickey. I've actually met the other two, neither were heavily involved in this project. They were much less involved than Mickey."

TT: Why release this book now? People could argue that Lewis, Gilley and Swaggart are out of the spotlight.

Davis: "I think the timing was important, not only are they in their late 70s, but to some extent over the last several years, the three have made a bit of a resurgence. Jerry put out "Last Man Standing" in 2006, Mickey is in Branson and Jimmy's ministry is on an upswing. He's got a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week ministry. By some strange set of circumstances, all three of them have made a comeback."

TT: What's the most significant thing you learned about the men?

Davis: "Really, what's amazing, and I come back to what I said earlier, people do things for a reason, and if you look through their lives and the influences they came up under, you begin to understand why they did what they did."
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