Jerry is considered one of the pioneers of rock’n’roll alongside the likes of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. His always intense interpretations of classics such as “Great balls of fire” and “Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on”, in the late 50’s, were forever marked in rock history.
In 1957, the singer and pianist married a 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown. There were seven other marriages, including one that lasted between 1985 and 2005.
Jerry Lee Lewis during a concert in São Paulo, in November 1993 — Photo: Fernando Sampaio/Estadão Content/Arquivo
Jerry Lee Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, on September 29, 1935. He was considered the last living rock pioneer. It was in Memphis, United States, that Lewis became a professional musician at Sun Records in 1957.
Nicknamed “The Killer”, he was among the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and has recorded over 40 albums.
The pianist knew how to mix styles such as country, R&B, gospel and pop in acrobatic performances with the piano. He said that the intention was to take people in the audience “to hell”, alongside him.
The style of playing the piano and singing, always in an energetic and strident way, marked hits like “Great balls of fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin ‘Goin’ On”. The two biggest hits of his career were essential in shaping rock’s early sound.
In 1958, Jerry Lee Lewis aged 22 and Myrna Brown, 13 — Photo: Associated Press
“Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he died at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis,” the singer’s publicist said in a statement. “He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the future and that he was not afraid.”
In 2022, the documentary “Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind” directed by Ethan Coen was released. The director’s first solo production, known for his films alongside his brother Joel, recounts the musician’s story.
Jerry is survived by daughters Phoebe and Lori; sons Jerry Lee III and Ronnie; and two sisters.