Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, kingpin of 1950s American rock and roll who played a pivotal role in shaping the genre, died on Friday at the age of 87, his publicist said, according to NBC News.

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," an obituary by Rick Bragg, his biographer, said.

Lewis passed away with his wife, Judith, at his side at his home in DeSoto County, Mississippi, south of Memphis.

"He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid," the obituary said.

It cited Judith as saying, "He is ready to leave," just before his death.

Lewis was born Sept. 29, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. He started playing the piano at the age of 9, and his father — a carpenter and bootlegger — was said to have mortgaged their house to buy a piano.

The young Lewis mimicked the artistic styles and public personas of a local preacher and Black musicians he saw playing at local venues.

In performances on stages and television screens, Lewis delighted audiences by stomping on his piano, tapping the keys with his feet and hopping around.

One of his most well-known hits was “Great Balls of Fire”. Other hits included “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Breathless”.

Lewis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)