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Montevideo, February 7th 2023 - 09:24 UTC

 

 

Rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis dies aged 87

Saturday, October 29th 2022 - 10:13 UTC
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A scandalous personal life affected the career of one of rock and roll's all-time icons A scandalous personal life affected the career of one of rock and roll's all-time icons

Rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, of Great Balls of Fire fame, has died of natural causes, it was reported Friday.

The musician, who had been given a Grammy award for his career in 2005, had also worked with Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton on their studio albums

“He's ready to go,” his wife Judith had said shortly before his death.

A friend and rival of Elvis Presley, Lewis influenced an entire generation of musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, who said of him in 1995, “He doesn't play rock and roll, he is rock and roll.”

Born Sept. 29, 1935, to a poor family in Ferriday, Louisiana, Lewis discovered the keyboard at age 9. The following year, his parents Elmo and Mamie mortgaged the family farm to buy him an upright piano. By 1958, Lewis, nicknamed The Killer, was already shooting to the top.

Great Balls of Fire remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was also the name of a 1989 film about Lewis starring Dennis Quaid and actress Winona Ryder.

In 1958, Lewis embarked on a U.K. tour and the press discovered he had married his 13-year-old second cousin Myra. “I knew that was wrong,” Lewis told The Washington Post later. After that, he was blacklisted from radio and TV. “To go from making US$10,000 a night to making US$250 is a big disappointment,” he admitted.

For most of the 1960s, Lewis was sidelined, and overshadowed by the next generation, such as The Beatles. But in the early 1970s, John Lennon knelt down to kiss Lewis' feet and told him, “You're the man who made it possible for me to be a rock and roll star.”

In 1986, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Presley, Berry, James Brown, and Ray Charles.

After 14 years of marriage to Myra, the couple separated. Married twice before his marriage to Myra, Lewis walked down the aisle four times afterward. He had six children. One died when he fell in a swimming pool as an infant and another was killed in an automobile accident.

In 1993 he had his pianos, furniture, and other personal items seized to cover his tax debts.

Lewis had abused his body so much when he was young that it was finally taking its toll. Lewis was a stubborn drinker and at times also consumed prescription drugs. He toured extensively late in his life, although a stroke in 2019 curtailed his schedule. “I want to be remembered simply for my music,” he once said.

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