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TMZ sparked off a furor of shock and grief when they announced that rock ‘n’ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis died in Memphis on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. We’re not sure where they jumped the gun, ,but the Rock and Rock Hall of Famer and Country Music Hall of Famer passed away on Friday at the age of 87

TMZ issued their regrets of their errorThursday October 27, saying, “Jerry Lee Lewis is not dead…as we previously reported. The rock ‘n’ roll legend is alive and living in Memphis.”  But he is very ill. They said they were told by someone claiming to be Lewis’ rep that he had passed, which turned out not to be the case. Or did it?

Lewis has officially passed away on Friday morning, October 28, and it looks as though someone may have leaked the information a little earlier to TMZ than family wanted.

In fact, Jerry Lee Lewis was finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, October, 16. Lewis, the 87-year-old artist nicknamed “The Killer,” was unable to attend the induction ceremony due to guidance from his doctor. But, his longtime and dear friends and fellow country stars Hank Williams Jr. and Kris Kristofferson presented and accepted in his honor. Kristofferson accepted the award, for the already Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, from Williams Jr. Kris and his wife Lisa were drove down to Memphis and presented it to Jerry Lee in person.

The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Lewis and another artist, star Keith Whitley, who died in 1989 at age 33, as both started their careers outside of country music. Lewis was an early rock pioneer while Whitley was abluegrass performer-turned-country star. The ceremony also included inducting Record Executive Joe Galante.

His death had erroneously been reported by some outlets on Wednesday that sent shockwaves out stun out, today is a sad day for the world of rock and county music.

“Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis,” Farnum’s statement said. “He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid.”

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Lewis, from Ferriday, Louisiana, grew up on country music, but Sam Philips at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, turned him into a rockabilly star, with hits like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

Williams, who also helped induct Lewis into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, recalled Lewis’s spending time at his home when he was a kid and listening to Lewis’ rock songs on the radio. He said Lewis taught him that entertaining was about more than skill.

Williams said, “Jerry Lee doesn’t ask for your attention, he demands it. He doesn’t take a stage, he commands it.”

Lewis ultimately transcended category. With typical arrogance, he would frequently declare that there were only four real stylists in American music: Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and, of course, Jerry Lee Lewis.

In Memphis, Lewis played alongside Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash in the now famous Million Dollar Quarter. Lewis’ career was nearly derailed over the scandal arising from his marriage to Myra Lewis Williams, his 13-year-old first cousin once removed and was 22 at the time. He faced a backlash from fans during a tour inEngland in 1958, when crowds became combative.

Lewis was abandoned by concert promoters for several years before mounting a return to the country charts in the late 1960s. He had No. 1 hits on the Billboard Country Chart with “There Must Be More to Love Than This,” “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” and “Chantilly Lace.” His other top country singles included, “What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me), “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye” and “To Make Love Sweeter for You.”

Chris Isaak Delivered a rollicking version of “Great Balls of Fire” during the ceremony and 85-year-old actor and singer Kristofferson made a rare public appearance to help unveil Lewis’ plaque, which will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame rotunda.

Here is Lewis’ (The Killer) acceptance note to the Country Music Association:

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“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.

“I tried everything I could to build up the strength to come today, as I’ve looked so forward to it since I found out about it earlier this year.

“My sincere apologies to all of you for missing this fine event, but I hope to see you all soon.

“To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honor in Country music. Through over 60 years singing music professionally, country has always been the genre where I felt the most at home, between my fellow artists, the radio and the industry players, some of them anyway.

“I am honored to be going into that Hall of Fame rotunda with some of my heroes, Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers and the like, not to mention so many amazing friends who have been so good to me through the years.

“Thank you all for your support and love and for electing me into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and most of all, thanks to God for allowing me to experience this honor while I am still here.

“Since I could not be in person with you today, I have asked one of my closest and dearest friends to accept this great honor for me, and he’s no stranger to this process: the legendary, Kris Kristofferson.”

Divorced by Myra Gale in 1970, Lewis remarried four times. Wife Jaren Pate drowned in 1983. A two-month marriage to Shawn Stephens ended with her fatal drug overdose in 1984. Sixth spouse Kerrie McCarver divorced him in 2004. He wedded his caregiver, Judith, in 2012.

He is survived by his wife, Judith Coghlan Lewis, his children Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Phoebe Lewis and Lori Lancaster, sister Linda Gail Lewis, cousin Jimmy Swaggart and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Donations may be made in Jerry Lee Lewis’ honor to the Arthritis Foundation or MusiCares – the non-profit foundation of the GRAMMYs / National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

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By Julio Cahn

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