Rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis has passed away. He was 87.
Lewis, a singer, songwriter and pianist, was nicknamed “the Killer.” He was described as “Rock and roll’s first great wild man and one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century.”
His publicist announced the news with a statement that began, “Somewhere in the world, in a mean little honky-tonk or big music hall or church basement rec room, someone is playing a Jerry Lee Lewis song.”
According to the statement, Lewis “suffered through the last years of his life from various illnesses and injuries that, his physicians have often said, should have taken him decades ago; he had abused his body so thoroughly as a young man he was given little chance of lasting through middle age, let alone old age.”
Lewis was born on September 29, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. He began playing the piano at 9. His mother sent him to the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas, but he left after he got into trouble for playing a boogie-woogie version of “My God Is Real.”
Considered a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly music, Lewis made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. “Crazy Arms” sold 300,000 copies in the South, and his 1957 hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” shot Lewis to fame worldwide. He followed this with the major hits “Great Balls of Fire”, “Breathless,” and “High School Confidential.”
In 1968, Lewis made a transition into country music and had hits with songs such as “Another Place, Another Time”. Throughout his seven-decade career, Lewis had 30 songs reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Chart.
His No. 1 country hits included “To Make Love Sweeter for You,” “There Must Be More to Love Than This,” “Would You Take Another Chance on Me,” and “Me and Bobby McGee”.
(Photo: Silvio Tanaka)
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