Rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis has died, according to a statement from his representative. He was 87.
Erroneous reports of the singer’s death circulated widely earlier this week. But representative Zach Farnum has confirmed to Variety that the singer died this morning. “Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis,” the statement reads. “He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid.”
Jerry Lee Lewis has been described as rock n’ roll’s first great wild man and one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century. He was a pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly, making his first recordings at Sun Records in Memphis.
His 1957 hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” brought him to fame across the world. Other hits include “Great Balls of Fire, “Breathless,” and “High School Confidential.” Following a marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Lewis’ career as a rock and roll star seemed over.
In 1968, Lewis transitioned to country music and reignited his career throughout the ’70s. He regularly topped the country-western charts throughout his career, with 30 songs reaching the Top 10 spots on the Billboard Country and Western carts. His #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 McGhee.”
Jerry Lee Lewis won four Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and two Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022.
“His drive, his timing, his offhand vocal power, his unmistakable boogie-plus piano, and his absolute confidence in the face of the void make Jerry Lee the quintessential rock and roller,” said music critic Robert Christgau of the legendary singer.