‘He pulverised the piano’: Elton John leads tributes to ‘groundbreaking’ Jerry Lee Lewis

Musicians including Elton John and Ringo Starr have paid tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis after his death aged 87.

The “Great Balls of Fire” artist’s death was announced on Friday 28 October, having been prematurely reported days earlier.

In a statement announcing his passing, representatives for the late star described Lewis as “Perhaps the last true, great icon of the birth of rock‘n’roll, whose marriage of blues, gospel, country, honky-tonk and raw, pounding stage performances so threatened a young Elvis Presley that it made him cry”.

On Instagram, John shared a photograph of himself and Lewis together, alongside a short written tribute.

“Without Jerry Lee Lewis, I wouldn’t have become who I am today,” wrote the “Crocodile Rock” singer-songwriter. “He was groundbreaking and exciting, and he pulverised the piano. A brilliant singer too.

“Thank you for your trailblazing inspiration and all the rock ‘n’ roll memories. @jerryleelewisthekiller #RIP.”

Starr, meanwhile, shared a tribute to Lewis on Twitter, writing: “God bless Jerry Lee Lewis peace and love to all his family Ringo.”

The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood tweeted: “R.I.P. JLL the KILLER – What a man.”

Novelist Stephen King wrote: “RIP Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer has gone. He could play that piano, boy. Think I gotta play me some Lewis Boogie.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the passing of Jerry Lee Lewis. Love his music and I was hugely influenced by his records and live performances which were always full of fire and inspiration! No one could touch him! God Bless you, Jerry Lee.”

Renowned for his piano-playing ability and legacy on the rock’n’roll scene, Lewis was nonetheless a highly controversial figure, having married his 13-year-old third cousin, Myra Gale Brown, at the age of 22.

Lewis also experienced multiple high-profile run-ins with the law, including in 1976 when he accidentally shot bass player Norman “Butch” Owens while playing with a firearm.

He was also arrested that same year outside Elvis Presley’s Graceland home carrying a pistol.

Lewis’s publicist stated that he died home in Desoto County, Mississippi, with his seventh wife, Judith, by his side.