Renowned Jazz Pianist Ramsey Lewis Has Died, Age 87

CHICAGO—Renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis has died. He was 87.

Ramsey Lewis died on Sept. 12 in his sleep at his Chicago home, according to his son, Bobby Lewis.

“He was just at peace,” Bobby Lewis told The Associated Press that night. “Most people say when they met dad that he was a class act. He was that way even through his last breath.”

During his career, Ramsey Lewis performed with musical stars such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Al Jarreau, and Pat Metheney. Lewis had more than 80 albums to his credit—three dozen of them with Chicago-based Chess Records. He toured around the world and performed at the 1995 state dinner that then-President Bill Clinton hosted for President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil.

Lewis earned three Grammy awards and seven gold records.

Lewis also hosted radio shows in the 1990s and 2000, including “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” on WNUA-FM and the syndicated “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis.” In 2007, he hosted “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” a weekly program that aired on public television stations nationwide.

Lewis also spent time working on behalf of charities that brought music to young people.

“Ramsey’s passion for music was truly fueled by the love and dedication of his fans across the globe,” 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 family’s great pleasure to share Ramsey in this special way with all those who admired his God-given talents.”

Brett Steele, whose Tampa, Florida-based Steele Management represented Lewis since 2011, said Lewis spent the last year of his life working on his memoirs which are completed and scheduled to be published next year.

In addition to his wife and son, Lewis also 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.