Rock ’n’ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis has died at age 87.
The “Great Balls of Fire” singer’s death was confirmed by his reps at 117 Entertainment Group on Friday, October 28. In a lengthy tribute to the legendary artist — nicknamed “The Killer” — Jerry’s team noted that his wife, Judith Coghlan Lewis, said that he was “ready to leave.”
News of the “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” artist’s passing comes two days after TMZ erroneously reported that he had died. The article was subsequently taken down. “He’s alive,” the singer’s rep told Us Weekly at the time.
The Memphis resident, who had been dealing with health issues prior to his death, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 16 but was unable to attend the ceremony after coming down with the flu.
“Dear friends and fans in Nashville, It is with heartfelt sadness and disappointment that I write to you today from my sick bed, rather than be able to share my thoughts in person,” Jerry wrote via Facebook at the time. “I tried everything I could to build up the strength to come today — I’ve looked so forward to it since I found out about it earlier this year. My sincerest apologies to all of you for missing this fine event, but I hope to see you all soon.”
Per the obituary penned by his team, the “Baby Baby Bye Bye” singer “suffered through the last years of his life from various illnesses and injuries that, his physicians have often said, should have taken him decades ago; he had abused his body so thoroughly as a young man he was given little chance of lasting through middle age, let alone old age.”
The artist was considered a pioneer in rock music, coming up alongside such greats as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and more. He received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2005 and was inducted into the inaugural class of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, with his career successes being celebrated for decades.
Jerry was married seven times — once to an underage cousin, 117 Group’s obituary noted — and lost two sons before he passed away.
“Jerry Lee Lewis is survived by his wife, Judith Coghlan Lewis, his children Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Pheobe Lewis and Lori Lancaster, sister Linda Gail Lewis, cousin Jimmy Swaggart and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews,” the tribute stated. “He was preceded in death by his parents Elmo and Mamie Lewis, sons Steve Allen Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis Jr., his siblings Elmo Lewis Jr. and Frankie Jean Lewis and his cousin Mickey Gilley.”
Fans are encouraged to send donations in the rocker’s honor to the Arthritis Foundation or MusiCares.