Jerry Lee Lewis Not Dead, Despite Reports

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Despite previous reports claiming Jerry Lee Lewis had passed away, the legendary musician is still alive, living in Memphis.

Rock ‘n’ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis has died at the age of 87. As reported by TMZ, the “Great Balls of Fire” singer passed away on Wednesday (October 26) at his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jerry Lee Lewis inspired countless fans and fellow musicians for decades through his illustrious career. His impact on the music world can never be forgotten or replaced. With his countless hits including “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “High School Confidential,” the legendary singer, songwriter, and pianist pioneered the rock and roll and rockabilly genres we know today.

Lewis’ time as a professional musician stretches all the way back to 1949 when he performed publicly for the first time at a car dealership in Ferriday at the young age of 14. From there, he created a successful career spanning more than 70 years.

Jerry Lee Lewis Unable to Attend Country Music Hall of Fame Induction

Though his recordings became less frequent as he aged, he never lost his love for music. He was so dedicated to his craft, in fact, that his doctors had to insist he not attend this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony, where he was inducted alongside fellow country music legends Keith Whitley and Joe Galante.

His colleagues and fans Hank Williams Jr. and Kris Kristofferson were there to accept the honor on his behalf, however. And Williams, specifically, gave a few heartfelt words about the rockabilly icon. “Jerry Lee doesn’t ask for your attention, he demands it,” Williams said. “He doesn’t take a stage, he commands it.”

“Believe me. If Jerry Lee Lewis sits down in front of a piano at your house, you’re going to pay attention,” he continued. Williams then recounted a cherished childhood memory. “Jerry Lee would tell me my father was one of his heroes. And if he couldn’t meet his hero, he would meet his son and show him how to boogie-woogie. That’s what I mean when I say Rockin’ Randall learned from the very best.”

Neither the nature nor the severity of Jerry Lee Lewis’ illness was disclosed at the time. However, he was well enough to send in his own remarks to the audience via note. In it, he apologized for his absence and for writing the note from his “sick bed.”

“To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honor in country music,” Lewis wrote. “Country has always been the genre where I felt the most at home. Between my fellow artists, radio, and the industry players I’m honored to be going into that Hall of Fame rotunda with some of my heroes.”