‘Great Balls of Fire’ Singer Jerry Lee Lewis Has Died

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photo by Sean Gowdy

Jerry Lee Lewis has died; he was 87.

No cause of death was given. Lewis was recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame but missed the event due to recovering from the flu. In a Facebook post on October 19, Lewis shared, “It is with heartfelt sadness and disappointment that I write to you today from my sick bed, rather than be able to share my thoughts in person. I tried everything I could to build up the strength to come today – I’ve looked so forward to it since I found out about it earlier this year. My sincerest apologies to all of you for missing this fine event, but I hope to see you all soon.”

Lewis is often noted as one of the originators of Rock n’ Roll coming up alongside Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and others. Known for songs that include “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.”

Jerry Lee Lewis is survived by his wife, Judith Coghlan Lewis, his children Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Pheobe Lewis and Lori Lancaster, sister Linda Gail Lewis, cousin Jimmy Swaggart and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Elmo and Mamie Lewis, sons Steve Allen Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis Jr., his siblings Elmo Lewis Jr. and Frankie Jean Lewis and his cousin Mickey Gilley.

Services and more information will be announced in the following days. In lieu of flowers, the Lewis family requests donations be made in Jerry Lee Lewis’ honor to the Arthritis Foundation or MusiCares – the non-profit foundation of the GRAMMYs / National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

“Jerry Lee’s indelible mark as a rock & roller in no way obscures his impact as one of the greatest country singers of all time,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He was the ultimate stylist, taking songs to places they could never have gone without his unique voice and soul. Known as ‘The Killer,’ in reality he was a reviver, resurrecting music and emotions. The country records he made with producer Jerry Kennedy will never be replicated or surpassed, and we were honored to recently welcome him into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Among the greatest of artists, he was, as his friend Kris Kristofferson put it, ‘a table-thumpin’ smash.’”

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