Renowned pianist Ramsey Lewis, whose 60-year career began with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and made him one of America’s most successful jazz musicians, has died at the age of 87.
ewis is revered in jazz circles for 1960s hits like The ‘In’ Crowd, Hang On Sloopy and Wade In The Water.
He received three Grammys and seven gold records. The trio’s first record in 1956 was Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen Of Swing.
Lewis died in his sleep at his home in Chicago on Monday, according to his son Bobby Lewis.
“He was just at peace,” Mr Lewis told The Associated Press on Monday night. “Most people say when they met dad that he was class. He was like that until his last breath.”
Ramsey Lewis described his approach to composing and performing in a 2011 interview with the AP.
“Life is a solo, and it goes on,” Lewis said while seated at the dinner table in his Chicago home. “I just know that if I put my hands on the piano, it will flow.”
Lewis took his first piano lessons at the age of four. Spending his early days in Chicago, he used his gospel and classical roots to create his own style of jazz in the many local venues that engaged young jazz musicians.
“It gave us a lot of opportunities to explore our ideas and learn what it means to perform in front of an audience,” said Lewis when he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2007.
He accepted the award from his mentor and fellow jazz master, pianist Billy Taylor.
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During his career, Lewis has performed with musical stars such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Al Jarreau and Pat Metheney.
Lewis has more than 80 albums to his credit – three dozen of them on Chicago-based Chess Records.
He has toured the world and performed at the 1995 state dinner hosted by then-US President Bill Clinton for his Brazilian counterpart, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
“I believe that my father – his love of the piano and his passion for the piano and how he coveted that love and how he protected it – gave him a long life,” said Bobby Lewis. “He recognized the gift that God had given him.”
Lewis also spent time working on commission for charities that brought music to young people.
“Ramsey’s passion for music was truly fueled by the love and devotion of his fans around the world,” his wife Janet Lewis said in a Facebook post.
“He loved touring and meeting music lovers from so many cultures and walks of life. It was our great pleasure to share Ramsey in this special way with all those who admired his God-given talents.”
In addition to his wife and son, Lewis is survived by daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain; two other sons Kendall Kelly Lewis and Frayne Lewis; and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/renowned-jazz-pianist-ramsey-lewis-dies-aged-87-41985126.html Renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis has died at the age of 87