Jerry Lee Lewis Passes Away

29 October 2022 | 9:40 am | Mary Varvaris

He was 87 years old.

(Source: Facebook)

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Jerry Lee Lewis has passed away, aged 87.

The American singer, songwriter and renowned pianist, known for his hits Great Balls Of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, and High School Confidential, was nicknamed "The Killer" and often described as "Rock and roll's first great wild man and one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century."

Lewis passed away from natural causes in his home with his wife, Judith, by his side. 

In 1986, he was inducted into the inaugural Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame alongside Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, and The Everly Brothers.

In 1958, Lewis' career was struck by controversy after it was revealed that at 22 years old, he married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Brown. There was outrage in the British press, and his tour was called off. The couple were married for thirteen years; Lewis never had another US Top 20 hit.

His fourth and fifth marriages were also shocking. Jaren Pate and Shawn Stephens both died in suspicious circumstances, Pate by drowning and domestic abuse rumours surrounding Stephens.

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Lewis did find success in music again, but outside rockabilly. He scored hits on the US Country charts, such as Another Place, Another Time and his version of Me And Bobby McGee.

He drew the ire of Chuck Berry on tour; Lewis objected to going on stage after Berry, so Berry set Lewis' piano on fire following his performance with the words, "Follow that, boy."

Several musicians have taken to social media to leave a tribute for Lewis in the wake of his death.

Sir Elton John recalled Lewis' impact on John's musical career and his contribution to music, writing, "Without Jerry Lee Lewis, I wouldn't have become who I am today. He was groundbreaking and exciting, and he pulverized the piano. A brilliant singer too. Thank you for your trailblazing inspiration and all the rock 'n' roll memories."

Stephen King tweeted, "RIP Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer has gone. He could play that piano, boy. Think I gotta play me some Lewis Boogie."

Kris Kristofferson inducted Jerry Lee Lewis into the Country Music Hall Of Fame a few weeks ago, writing, "Kris recently honored Jerry Lee Lewis as a new member to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He and his wife Lisa join the world in sharing their condolences on the passing of this legend. Rock and roll heaven is ablaze today."