Artist News

Jerry Lee Lewis dies

By | Published on Monday 31 October 2022

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis has died, aged 87, it was confirmed on Friday.

In a statement, his publicist Zach Farnum said: “Lewis, perhaps the last true, great icon of the birth of rock n roll, whose marriage of blues, gospel, country, honky tonk and raw, pounding stage performances so threatened a young Elvis Presley that it made him cry, has died”.

“He was there at the beginning, with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, and the rest, and watched them fade away one by one till it was him alone to bear witness, and sing of the birth of rock n roll”, he went on.

The musician’s death came just days after TMZ falsely reported that Lewis had died – his management saying at the time that the website had fallen for a hoax, telling reporters: “He’s alive. TMZ reported erroneously off of a bullshit anonymous tip”. TMZ then published a retraction, saying that it “regrets the error”.

Born in Louisiana in 1935, Lewis began his career in 1952, and by 1956 was recording as both a solo artist and a session musician at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Sun Studios. In 1957, he released his biggest hit, ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, which brought him international success.

His career was halted in 1958, however, when he arrived in the UK for tour dates with his new (and third, at the age of 22) wife, Myra Gale Brown, who was also his thirteen year old cousin. The tour was cancelled after three shows due to the subsequent public outcry and he returned to the US.

Although he continued to work – and was one of the inaugural inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986 – his big career revival came in 1989 with the release of the film ‘Great Balls Of Fire’. Starring Dennis Quad as the musician, the movie followed his early life and career, and Lewis himself re-recorded all of the songs featured in the film.

Despite experiencing much ill health in his later years, Lewis continued to record and perform until recently.