Jerry Lee Lewis’s youngest son is evicted from Lewis Ranch where family has lived for 50 years
The son of late rock ‘n’ roller Jerry Lee Lewis has been evicted from the musician’s sprawling Mississippi mega-ranch, after a judge ruled he illegally occupied the property with his two kids following his father’s death in October.
The decision marks the of a bitter legal battle for the ranch between Jerry Lee Lewis III, the youngest son of the rock icon, and the children of Lewis’ longtime manager, the actual owners of the estate.
The saga started in January, when the younger Lewis, 36, was served a lawsuit ordering him and his school-aged children off the property, after they moved in last year when the ailing musician moved to a more accessible home.
Lewis was given a deadline of March 5 to vacate the property on 1595 Malone Road in the northern town of Nesbit when it was listed for sale at the beginning of January, which came and went Sunday after the scion fell short of crowdfunding the $80,000 he said was necessary for a down-payment.
The suit, filed by the family of the late Lewis’ longtime manager and brother-in-law Cecil Harrelson, revealed to many that while Lewis’s legendary father bought and lived on the ranch for nearly a half-century, it was never legally his.
The son of late rock ‘n’ roller Jerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Lee III (seen at left with his dad), was evicted from the musician’s Mississippi ranch Sunday after a judge ruled he illegally occupied the property following his father’s death in October
The decision marks the of a bitter legal battle for the ranch – which comes complete with a main house, pool, a separate apartment, piano-shaped swimming pool – between Jerry Lee III and the children of Lewis’ longtime manager and brother-in-law, the actual owners
In actuality, the manse belonged to Harrelson, Jerry’s road manager and lifelong best friend who twice married and divorced the artist’s younger sister Linda Gail Lewis before dying in 2013.
After Harrelson’s death, the deed technically passed to his children – not Lewis’ – though the controversial rock pioneer, often referred to by his nickname The Killer, would remain at the residence for the better part of a decade before passing himself late last year at age 87.
Two months after Lewis’ death, Harrelson’s three children – Cecil Harrelson, Jr., Mary Jean Harrelson, and Edona Marie Roundtree – announced the property would hit the market for an undisclosed sum by the year’s end.
The younger Lewis, who also has a home on nearby Pleasant Hill Road gifted by his father, was promptly ordered by a judge to vacate the property after it was put up for sale by Harrelson’s adult children, who called the Great Balls of Fire singer ‘Uncle.’
Lewis was given a deadline of March 5 to vacate the property on 1595 Malone Road in the northern town of Nesbit when it was listed for sale at the beginning of January, which came and went Sunday after he fell short of crowdfunding $80,000 he said was for a downpayment
The Great Balls of Fire singer – pictured at a Rock N’Roll revival concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1975 – signed over the home to his manager in the form of a life estate trust following its purchase in the early 70s, to protect it from his own embattled finances
They argue that their father, who Lewis looked to like a blood brother, advised against the purchase of the home – which comes complete with a main house, pool, a separate apartment, piano-shaped swimming pool – was too expensive, with the famously flippant musician already owning a mansion in Memphis and 2 in Ferriday.
Reportedly against the advice of his manager, the singer purchased the property with the assistance of the law firm JLL Enterprises.
In actuality, the manse belonged to Cecil Harrelson, Jerry’s road manager and lifelong best friend who twice married and divorced the artist’s younger sister before dying in 2013
However, in an attempt to protect the property from his own embattled finances, the singer placed it in a life trust in name of Harrelson in the event it would ever be repossessed.
Harrelson’s descendants say that their father had no prior knowledge of this arrangement until he was approached by his and Lewis’ attorneys at JLL Enterprises, Lewis’ estate, to sign the paperwork necessary to go through with the sale.
At the time, Lewis allegedly told his then-brother-in-law that he was fine with the arrangement, so that – in his own words, according to the Harrelsons and sister Roundtree – ‘the government or no f*****g whores’ could ever take it from him.
The singer’s life would go on to consist of several failed marriages, tragedies, and scandals – including his shortlived marriage to his 13-year-old cousin that nearly derailed his career – that Harrelson’s children would have seen the property lost.
In a statement, they said that had it not been for the life trust, the IRS would have seized the property – which Lee Lewis III values at over $7million but does not have a disclosed price tag – after Lewis’ estate found itself in dire straits due to poor management over the course of the singers’ multidecade career.
Lee Lewis III values the home at over $7million, though it does not have a disclosed price tag. The owners say the rocker only gave it to their dad to keep it out of the hands of the IRS or ex wives – and that his intentions were for it to remain in his friend’s family, not his
Billed in a listing as a luxurious ‘rock retreat’, the home was purchased by the late pianist in the 70s, and features this aptly shaped pool
No matter who sued JLL, the family said, ‘the property was protected.’
The family adds that Lewis allegedly told their father – a loyal and trusted JLL employee for decades – that that he ‘deserved’ the property, and that this arrangement would ‘keep it safe,’ despite Lewis being the one to live there.
‘[Harrelson] did not in any way orchestrate placing the property in the life trust. He merely signed the prepared document as requested,’ a rep said in a recent statement, which came earlier this year after Lewis III said Harrelson ‘pulled a fast one’ on his father.
‘The place where I grew up is no longer our home and our Dad’s legacy,’ he said in a statement on Instagram Tuesday, shortly after being forced out of the home after a judge ruled to side with the Harrelson clan.
‘It’s now a property that will, unfortunately, be sold off without our input or decisions and contrary to my understanding of my father’s wishes,’ the father-of-two griped.
Lewis is pictured at a Massachusetts Farm Aid concert in 2008. He was once tipped as a potential successor to Elvis, only to see his career derailed by a pedophilia scandal
The admission came after a failed attempt to crowdfund $80,000 he said was necessary for a down payment on the ranch – though lawyers for the Harrelson family argue the number ‘has no significance or relevance’ the the 30-acre ranch, which they are billing in a listing as a luxurious ‘rock retreat’
‘We have had multiple offers far exceeding the fair market value of the property,’ the family said in a statement, adding that they are not yet taking offers, but are still receiving interest.
‘This number is misleading and gives the impression that there have been discussions regarding purchase price which have not taken place,’ they added.
Since moved out, Lewis III maintains that it was his father’s will that the home be passed to his children – not Harrelson’s – after his death, despite receiving his own undisclosed inheritance, and his own house, before and after his father’s death.
He says the statement from his cousins stating that Lewis wanted Harrelson to inherit the ranch ‘is contrary to everything Dad told me while growing up and over the last few years of his life.
‘I want to stay in my family home where I was raised. So I can continue raising my children here. Like he wanted me to do. There is a rich history here and I want to keep the Ranch in the family and continue to honor my father’s legacy.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Lewis III for comment. His famous father – the son of one-time bootlegger Elmo Lewis and the cousin of TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart meanwhile – led a checkered, but legendary life.
Lewis III – seen here in the his late father’s posh pool shaped like a piano – maintains that it was his father’s will that the home be passed to his children – not Harrelson’s – after his death, despite receiving his own home and cash before and after his father’s death
He married seven times, and was rarely far from trouble or death. His fourth wife, Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate, drowned in a swimming pool in 1982 while suing for divorce.
His fifth wife, Shawn Stephens, 23 years his junior, died of an apparent drug overdose in 1983. Within a year, Lewis had married Kerrie McCarver, then 21.
She filed for divorce in 1986, accusing him of physical abuse and infidelity. He countersued, but both petitions eventually were dropped.
They finally divorced in 2005 after several years of separation. The couple had one child, Jerry Lee III.
Another son by a previous marriage, Steve Allen Lewis, 3, drowned in a swimming pool in 1962, and son Jerry Lee Jr. died in a traffic accident at 19 in 1973.
Lewis also had two daughters, Phoebe and Lori Leigh, and was survived by his seventh wife, Judith.
His finances were equally chaotic. Lewis made millions, but he liked his money in cash and ended up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service.
When he began welcoming tourists in 1994 to his longtime residence in Nesbit, – which comes complete with a piano-shaped swimming pool – he set up a 900 phone number fans could call for a recorded message at $2.75 a minute.
Two of his many marriages ended in his wife´s early death. Brown herself divorced him in the early 1970s and would later allege physical and mental cruelty that nearly drove her to suicide.
‘If I was still married to Jerry, I’d probably be dead by now,’ she told People magazine in 1989.
Lewis reinvented himself as a country performer in the 1960s, and the music industry eventually forgave him, long after he stopped having hits. He won three Grammys, and recorded with some of the industry’s greatest stars.
In 2006, Lewis came out with ‘Last Man Standing,’ featuring Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King and George Jones. In 2010, Lewis brought in Jagger, Keith Richards, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw and others for the album ‘Mean Old Man.’