Mississippi music legend Jerry Lee Lewis has died at the age of 87.
Confirmed by the Associated Press, the controversial rock ‘n’ roll pioneer died Friday morning at his home in DeSoto County. The news comes just days after TMZ erroneously reported that Lewis had died on Wednesday. While no cause of death has been revealed, Lewis has dealt with various illnesses in recent years.
Originally born in Ferriday, La., Lewis had long called Mississippi home after learning from Johnny Littlejohn of Natchez. Infamously dubbed “The Killer,” Lewis came to fame in the late 1950s with songs like “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
In the 1960s when he transitioned from Sun Records to Smash Records after a string of well-publicized controversies, producers Jerry Kennedy and Eddie Kilroy decided to focus on Lewis’ country side. Music historian Colin Escott described Lewis as “a rock ‘n’ roller who could never quite get the country out of his soul, and a country singer who could never forget rock ‘n’ roll.”
Lewis had country hits continue into the 1970s as he moved to Smash’s parent label, Mercury Records and later Elektra Records. Other songs that reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Chart included “Me and Bobby McGee,” “To Make Love Sweeter for You,” “There Must Be More to Love Than This,” and “Would You Take Another Chance on Me.”
The successes did not stop there as Lewis’s 21st century albums, Last Man Standing (2006) and Mean Old Man (2010), received the best sales of his career.
Overall, Lewis has a dozen gold records and four Grammy awards. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience Hall of Fame, and most recently the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I’m just overwhelmed that they asked me here today,” Lewis said at an event earlier this year at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, adding that his career has taught him to “be a good person and treat people right.”
As of now, no funeral arrangements have been announced.