Jerry Lee Lewis, the notorious singer behind Great Balls of Fire, has died aged 87, his agent has confirmed.
One of the last survivors of rock ‘n’ roll’s golden age, his life was marred by scandal and violence.
His career was briefly halted when, aged 22, he married his 13-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown.
Lewis’s agent described him as “perhaps the last true, great icon of the birth of rock’n’roll”
In a statement, Lewis publicist Zach Farnum said: “He was there at the start, with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and the others, and watched them disappear one by one until it was he alone to witness and sing the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Lewis died at his home in Desoto County, Mississippi, with his seventh wife, Judith, by his side, his publicist said.
News of his death comes days after a hoax announcing his death was reported by the gossip site TMZ.
The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood led the tributes to Lewis, tweeting: “R.I.P. JLL the KILLER – What a man.”
“God bless Jerry lee Lewis, peace and love to all his family,” Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said.
Sir Elton John, who says Lewis influenced his love of the piano, wrote on his Instagram page: “Without Jerry Lee Lewis, I would not have become who I am today. He was groundbreaking and exciting, and he pulverized the piano.
“A brilliant singer too. Thank you for your pioneering inspiration and all the rock ‘n’ roll memories,” he added, sharing a photo of the two of them sitting together.
Neil McCormick of The Telegraph described Lewis as “the most dangerous man in rock ‘n’ roll…he was a ball of trouble armed with guns and setting the fire. He was also the most genuine rocker who ever lived”.
“Controversy dogged Lewis most of his life, a reputation for drunkenness, drug addiction, petticoats and worse,” he noted.