Rock n’ roll founding father Jerry Lee Lewis has died at age 87, it was announced on Friday (Oct. 28).
Lewis, who was best known for recording iconic rock hits such as “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Breathless” and “High School Confidential,” was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022.
The star’s career took a steep nosedive in 1958 with a media backlash, led by British journalist Ray Berry, who revealed that Lewis secretly married his 13-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown, who became his third wife. Lewis was 22 at the time and was quickly blacklisted by the music industry.
In ’68 he transitioned into country, recording the top 10 hit “Another Place Another Time,” which reached No. 4 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles chart, as it was then called. Four subsequent singles reached No. 1 on that chart: “To Make Love Sweeter for You,” “There Must Be More to Love Than This,” “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” and a cover version of The Big Bopper’s 1958 smash “Chantilly Lace.”
Lewis had six children by seven wives, and is survived by his wife Judith Brown, sons Ronnie and Jerry Lee Lewis III, and daughters Phoebe and Lori Lee.
Following the news of the death of “The Killer,” a number of stars mourned the loss of rock n’ roll’s “wild” man. Among them was actor Dennis Quaid, who portrayed the musician in the 1989 film Great Balls of Fire! “Jerry Lee was a Christian, an American icon and the greatest piano player in the world,” Quaid said in a statement. “People will be listening to ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lot of Shakin” 500 years from now. I will miss him. God bless you Jerry Lee.”
See more reactions from artists below.