Rock and Roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, perhaps the last true icon of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, has died. He was there at the beginning, with artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino and Buddy Holly. It was his 1957 hit Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. Major hits like Great Balls of Fire, Breathless, and High School Confidential followed. Sam Phillips, who launched the careers of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records in Memphis, called Lewis the most talented person he had ever seen. Musicians and music journalists called him a true virtuoso whose music was so rich and complex that some of them swore there were two pianos on stage instead of one.
His popularity quickly eroded in the wake of his marriage to “Myra Gale Brown,” his 13-year-old cousin once removed but his career was re-ignited in 1968 when he made a transition into country music and had 30 songs reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Chart. His successes continued throughout the decades as he released new albums and continued to tour around the world. His 2006 album Last Man Standing was his best selling release, with over a million copies sold worldwide. His last album was a gospel record with his cousin, lifetime televangelist “Jimmy Swaggart,” who had preached against his music when they were younger. He received numerous awards including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi.