Jerry Lee Lewis Dead at 87 Days After False Report

Rock n' roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis has passed away, his rep has confirmed, days after his death was erroneously reported by several outlets. Find out more about the musician's life and career.

By Corinne Heller Oct 28, 2022 7:40 PMTags
Watch: Rock 'n' Roll Legend Jerry Lee Lewis Confirmed Dead at 87

The world of rock n' roll has lost an icon.

Singer Jerry Lee Lewis, known for hits such as "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On" has died. He was 87.

The musician's publicist confirmed his death to NBC News Oct. 28—two days after several outlets erroneously reported his passing, sharing an obituary written by Lewis' biographer, Rick Bragg. "Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis," it read, "He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid."

A week before the Lewis' erroneous death report, a post on his Instagram page from Oct. 19 had stated that the musician was "too ill with the flu to attend" celebrations of his recent induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 16.

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The singer's cause of death has not been revealed yet. However, according to his obituary, Lewis "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."

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Just before Lewis' death, Judith said her husband "is ready to leave," his obituary noted. "He said he was ready to be with Jesus."

Lewis is also survived by his children Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Phoebe Lewis and Lori Lancaster, a sister, cousin Jimmy Swaggart and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, two sons, Steve Allen Lewis—who drowned in a swimming pool at age 3 in 1962, and Jerry Lee Lewis Jr.—who died in a car crash at 19 in 1973, and two siblings.

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Lewis began his career in the '50s and rose to fame as one of the most famous rock n' roll singers and pianists. The four-time Grammy winner's most recent album, gospel record Jimmy Lee & Jerry Lee: The Boys From Ferriday, which was released in July 2022, is a collaboration with his cousin Swaggart, a televangelist "who had preached against his music when they were younger."

According to his obituary, while working on the project, "Lewis, though his voice and body were weakened by his injury and a recent stroke, seemed happy, content."

In the obituary, Lewis also described his own legacy. Bragg wrote, "If you asked him, in his waning years, what he hoped people would say about him, he had a simple answer: 'You can tell 'em I played the piano and sang rock n' roll.'"

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