Our thoughts and prayers go out to the great Jerry Lee Lewis’ family for their tragic loss

Jerry Lee Lewis, the piano-playing rocker who wrote timeless songs like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” has passed away at the age of 87. Lewis was one of the first and most important figures in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

The news was released a day after the singer’s passing was incorrectly reported by TMZ, who claimed to have received it from a person posing as his agent. Later on, it was revealed that he was still alive and living at his Memphis home.

Following official word from Lewis’ publicist, today’s news of his passing was confirmed by CBS News.

In the 1950s, as rock ‘n’ roll was starting to gain popularity among young people in America, Lewis, also known by the moniker “The Killer,” rose to fame. Lewis is considered as the genre’s inventor, helping to create its sound and image with his energizing stage presence and bad-boy reputation.

Lewis stated to Rolling Stone in 2014, “I had invented rock and roll before anybody ever dreamed about having rock and roll.” When Elvis first appeared, he was rockabilly. That was rock and roll when I released “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” At that point, the term “rock & roll” was introduced.

Lewis was renowned for integrating stage theatrics in his performances, such as setting the piano on fire and playing the instrument with his feet, which astounded and delighted audiences.

In his prime, he competed with superstars like Elvis Presley. He is best known for the 1957 releases of “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” two classic early-rock successes.

Both songs had a significant impact on the rock genre and were included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest songs of all time.

Robert Gordon, a critic, said of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” that “Jerry Lee began to illustrate that in this new developing genre called rock ‘n’ roll, not everybody was going to stand there with a guitar.”

Elton John has also referred to it as “the perfect rock ‘n’ roll record.”

According to Rolling Stone, Elton John declared him to be the greatest rock and roll pianist ever in 2007. “Because he plays so quickly, I couldn’t play like him.”

Lewis was among the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, but his scandalous private life certainly had an impact on his career and legacy.

His marriage to Myra Gail Brown, Lewis’ second cousin and 13 at the time, may have been the most infamous scandal. Lewis was still married to his first wife at the time the two got hitched.

Lewis was banished to smaller venues and had trouble on the music charts as a result of the media incident, which had a significant negative impact on his career. He later experienced new popularity, though, after switching to country music.

However, tragedy and scandal dogged his personal life: in 1962, his 3-year-old son Steve Allen Lewis drowned. His union with Myra was troubled, and they separated in 1970.

Lewis was detained in 1975 after accidently shooting his bassist in the chest while shooting his office in Nashville. Lewis battled substance abuse as well.

Following the passing of his fifth wife Shawn Stephens in 1983, there was yet another scandal. Although an accidental methadone overdose was listed as the cause of death, Lewis was accused of misconduct, which he vehemently denied.

He reportedly told the LA Times in 1984 that “they’re attempting to slaughter me.” I’m used to that, though. For thirty years, people have attempted to demonstrate that I am the incorrect kind of person. But justice will ultimately prevail. My morals are obvious.

Legacy and death

Nevertheless, Lewis’ contribution to the development of rock ‘n’ roll cannot be denied, and his innovative creativity has long been revered by other musicians. He was a founding member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

One of the rare performers to achieve both distinctions, he was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame only days before he passed away.

According to his agent, Lewis passed away from “natural causes” at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi.

After Lewis’ passing, several other musicians lauded his talent and legacy.

Singer Kris Kristofferson told the LA Times that “He’s the only guy, other than Ray Charles, who sings country and rock ‘n’ roll truly.” “I don’t believe he has received credit for his true talent. He undoubtedly ranks alongside Frank Sinatra and all the other great American singers.

Jerry Lee Lewis, one of the great pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll music, may you rest in peace.


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