When Two Worlds Collide was Lewis's second album after leaving
Mercury Records and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard country albums chart. The title track was released as a single, making it to number 11, while the Jerry Chestnut song "Honky Tonk Stuff" reached number 28. Lewis had previously recorded "Who Will Buy the Wine" with
Sam Phillips at
Sun Records. The period leading up to the recording had been a difficult one for Lewis. In July 1979, his father died of cancer and, two months later, he was arrested for possession of pills prescribed by Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, the infamous "
Dr. Nick" who had also prescribed pills to
Elvis Presley. (In the 2014 authorized biography Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, Lewis would call Dr. Nick "a good man, a remarkable man.") The
IRS was also after his assets and he was in poor health from a lifetime of excess. He went on an ill-advised British tour, appearing on The Old Grey Whistle Test, and then came home to participate in a television special with
Mickey Gilley called A Family Affair, looking gaunt as the cousins played side by side at the piano.