Renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis dead at 87

The jazz pianist, composer and radio personality has transitioned
Photo credit: / N Crucian

Ramsey Lewis, the legendary pianist and bass player born in Chicago, has died at 84.

Lewis won three Grammys; R&B Instrumental Performance, R&B Performance by Duo or Group with Vocals and Jazz Instrumental Album. The news of his death follows four days after the release of his piano-only project, Ramsey Lewis – The Beatles Songbook.

In July, Blackstone Publishing announced plans to release a memoir in October 2023. The memoir will be co-written by award-winning jazz journalist Aaron Cohen.

“I would like to leave behind something that tells my story,” Lewis said. “Who I am, where I’ve been, what I think, what I feel. Something for my kids, grandkids, great grandkids and everyone. So that 30 years from now people will say, ‘Let me check his book out, my mom and dad used to talk about him.’ Through this book, I would like readers to come away with how commitment and honesty are combined to make your life what you want it to be.”

Lewis worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His work has been sampled in recent decades in R&B and hip-hop, but his sound always remained true to Chicago.

“Ramsey Lewis is a man who has touched all of our lives,” President Barack Obama once said, according to Lewis’ website. “Not everybody finds their calling in life as a 4-year-old boy sitting at a piano in the living room, but ever since he did, he’s filled our lives with music and with joy.”

Lewis’ career spanned over 60 years and his name has been tied to more than 80 albums.

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