Rock and roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, famous singer of Great Balls of Fire, has died at the age of 87.
In a statement, Lewis’ publicist, Zach Farnum, said: “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 disappear one by one. alone until he alone witnessed and sang the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Lewis died at his home in Dessato County, Mississippi, with his wife Judith by his side, according to a statement from his publicist.
News of his death comes just days after gossip website TMZ announced his death.
Nicknamed “The Killer”, Lee Lewis was as famous for his controversial private life as his music.
One of the last survivors of the golden age of rock and roll, his career came to a brief halt when, at the age of 22, he married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gayle Brown.
He talked about this marriage in an interview, smoking a cigar.
Jerry Lee Lewis died at his home in Dezato County, Mississippi, south of Memphis, with his wife Judith at his side.
“Lewis is perhaps the last true, great icon of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, whose combination of blues, gospel, country, honky-tonk and raw, edgy stage performances so threatened a young Elvis Presley that he cried, died,” said publicist Zach Farnum.
The musician suffered from various illnesses and injuries in the last years of his life, and doctors often told him they should have taken him decades ago, Mr. Farnum said.
He added that shortly before his death, Lewis’ wife Judith said: “He’s ready to go.”
Born in 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, Lewis later moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he found work as a studio musician for Sun Studios.
While working at Sun, he and Carl Perkins jammed with Presley and Johnny Cash in a session later dubbed the Million Dollar Quartet.
During this career, his music became a hit on the pop, country and R&B charts.
He also became known for his famous stage antics, such as standing up and even occasionally setting a piano on fire.
Lewis was inducted into the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and a few years later, in 1989, he was honored for his contributions to the recording industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.