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rest in peace

Rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis dead at 87

Pioneering rock 'n' roll star Jerry Lee Lewis died Friday at his home in Missouri, his publicist announced. Lewis was 87.

The publicist, Zach Farnum, gave no cause of death, but The New York Times notes Lewis "had been in poor heath for some time." His seventh wife, Judith, was with him when he died, per CNN.

Known for hits like "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", Lewis "was one of the leading figures of the 1950s rock era and a master showman – nicknamed 'The Killer' – whose raw, uninhibited performances drove young fans into spasmodic fits," CNN writes. 

But scandal derailed his success in 1958, when it was revealed he had married his 13-year-old first cousin, Myra Gale Brown. He was 22 at the time.

His image tarnished, Lewis later "reinvented himself" as a country artist and successfully "revived his career," CNN reports. In 1989, Dennis Quaid starred as Lewis in the biopic Great Balls of Fire!. 

Like many before him, Lewis also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, having once drunkenly crashed his car into the gates of Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion while carrying a loaded gun.

Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022. He is survived by his wife, Judith, four of his children, his sister, and a number of grandchilden, per the Times.