Almost every review of the ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 episode "Roll Tide/War Eagle (that I’ve seen today) mentions the scary, creepy, goofy-acting piano player whose rendition of Sweet Home Alabama is used throughout the documentary.
His name is Eric Lewis and goes by his stage name, Elew. Lewis is an accomplished Jazz pianist and has played with genre greats like Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks, and Roy Hargrove.
According to this NPR piece on him, Lewis has made quite a name for himself, employing the same unconventional style you saw in the documentary.
He’s also earning renown for developing his own style, which he calls “rock-jazz,” and in the NPR piece, he actually compares Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag with the Lynyrd Skynyd classic he plays in the ESPN documentary.
"Of course, the way the rock [band] does it, it's less emphasized in that overt kind of way," he says. "But the vocabulary on the surface level is very similar."
Whatever. I still thought it was a creepy addition to the documentary and was exactly in-line with ESPN’s intent in the film. They wanted the audience to be scared of the Alabama – Auburn rivalry we all know and love as the Iron Bowl.
Extra point: Here’s Lewis playing Sweet Home Alabama.