Jerry Lee Lewis was too sick to attend his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday (Oct. 16). The rock and country music legend instead wrote a note and asked Hank Williams Jr. to deliver it for him.

Williams — a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee from 2021 — did that and more. While much of his speech honoring Lewis was scripted, he deviated several times to point out the similarities between the two of them.

"Jerry Lee doesn't walk on stage and politely thank an audience for being there," Willams shared, smiling.

"No, yeah Jerry Lee doesn't ask for your attention. He demands it. He doesn't take a stage he commands it. Sounds familiar ..."

Class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony
Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame

Before getting to Lewis' words of gratitude, Williams spoke for about six minutes, sharing tidbits from his childhood with his own personal feelings toward the style of music the newest inductee played.

"Believe me, if Jerry Lee Lewis sits down in front of a piano at your house, you're going to pay attention," Williams says, recalling when this would happen at his house as a young boy.

"Jerry Lee would tell me my father was one of his heroes, and if he couldn't meet his hero, he would meet his son and show him how to boogie woogie," Williams continued, with the audience laughing and Jr. smiling and sticking his tongue out. "That's what I mean when I say Rockin' Randall learned from the very best."

The nature and severity of Lewis' health issues aren't clear, but Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young let the audience know that the news that he'd miss the event came very last minute, and that doctors had advised Lewis not to travel. In his remarks to the audience via note, Lewis apologized for having to write from his "sick bed" instead of being there, and then thanked those who'd helped him get to that stage.

"To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honor in country music," Lewis wrote. "Country has always been the genre where I felt the most at home, between my fellow artists, radio and the industry players I'm honored to be going into that Hall of Fame rotunda with some of my heroes."

Class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

Then, to everyone's surprise, Williams revealed that Lewis had asked Kris Kristofferson to receive his medallion on his behalf. The legendary songwriter makes few appearances and didn't say anything after accepting, only smiling with Williams and Young for a photograph.

The artists chosen to tribute Jerry Lee Lewis in song were Lee Ann Womack, who performed "Middle Age Crazy," the McCrary Sisters ("My God Is Real") and Chris Isaak ("Great Balls of Fire"). Keith Whitley and record label executive Joe Galante were also honored.

2022 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony

Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Whitley and record label executive Joe Galante were honored during the 2022 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony on Sunday night (Oct. 16) in Nashville. Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, Kenny Chesney, Alabama and Miranda Lambert were among the performers.

50 Classic Country Artists Today’s Fans Should Know

Today's country music stars owe a debt of gratitude to the legends who formed and cultivated the genre, starting in the early 20th century. These 50 classic country artists remain relevant today. Some developed a style that's emulated on today's country radio. Others set a bar for vocal talent or songwriting skill.

This list of 50 influential classic country artists features country music singers who started their careers before 1990. It's ranked by each artist's current influence on the country music format today, not individual, lifelong impact. Tell us where we got it right or wrong on Twitter.

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