Jerry Lee Lewis was a force to be reckoned with in rock 'n' roll, rhythm-and-blues, and country music. With over 30 songs reaching the Top 10 chart, his showmanship knocked every audience dead, hence the nickname of "The Killer."
Lewis began teaching himself to play the piano at the age of nine, copying the playing styles of preachers and Black musicians who traveled through Louisiana. His biggest musical influences came from radio programs like the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride and listening to artists such as Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and Al Jolson.
Lewis signed with Sun Records in 1956 and was the first person inducted into the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Let's take a look back at the best songs of his career:
10. "I'm On Fire"
This song about feeling the flames of love was released as a single in 1964 with Smash Records. It was one of Lewis' last songs to make the pop charts as a hit.
9. "Livin' Lovin' Wreck"
This is an Otis Blackwell song that Lewis put his spin on and released in 1961.
8. "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" was originally recorded and released as a blues song by Big Maybelle. Lewis let the piano take over and released it two years later as a rock 'n' roll hit. The song hit the No. 3 spot on the pop chart and took the No. 1 spot on the R&B and country charts.
7. "High School Confidential"
This song was the opening theme for a movie by the same name starring Mamie Van Doren and Russ Tamblyn.
6. "Boogie Woogie Country Man"
In 1975, Lewis released this rockin' song to the country charts.
5. "Crazy Arms"
After moving to Memphis, Lewis released his version of this Ray Price hit in 1956 as his very first single.
4. "Chantilly Lace"
"Chantilly Lace" was written by J.P. Richardson, known as "The Big Bopper." Lewis took the song and made it a No. 1 country hit.
3. "Another Place, Another Time"
After a temporary setback in the '60s due to public image, Lewis struck the country charts when this Jerry Chesnut composition hit the No. 4 spot and remain there for 17 weeks.
2. "Middle Age Crazy"
Written by Sonny Throckmorton, Lewis made this song about the time passing a fan favorite.
1. "Great Balls of Fire"
Lewis took this Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer tune and put his wicked twist on it. 'Great Balls of Fire' became Lewis's biggest hit and his signature song.
Lewis has worked with star-studded names like Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Presley, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow and Tim McGraw. His life is full of stories that some couldn't conjure with their best imagination. Rick Bragg captured Lewis' life in his biography Jerry Lee Lewis - His Own Story.
Jerry Lee Lewis will go down as one of the best showmen and pianists of the 20th century.