Chicago jazz legend Ramsey Lewis dies at age 87

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago composer and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, identified for his hit “The In Crowd” handed away Monday at the age of 87.

According to a Facebook Post, Lewis died in his Chicago house. Lewis was a three-time Grammy winner, and NEA Jazz Master. His 1965 hit “The In Crowd” was a world pop crossover hit.

Lewis was born in Chicago on May 27, 1935 and grew up within the Cabrini Green housing project. He began taking piano classes at a younger age and performed at church, the place his father was choir director. His father, Lewis, Sr., was an enormous jazz fan, all the time enjoying Duke Ellington and Art Tatum at house and took Ramsey to jazz reveals.

Ramsey Lewis Trio – The In Crowd (Live In Las Vegas) by
Live In Las Vegas on

Lewis went to Wells High School and it is the place saxophonist Wallace Burton requested him to hitch his band, the Clefs, a band that carried out jazz and R&B. The draft for the Korean War claimed a number of band members, however three who did not get drafted: Lewis, bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Redd Holt, fashioned the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

RELATED: Pianist, Composer Ramsey Lewis Honored In Chicago

In 1956, their first album, “Ramsey Lewis and His Gentlemen of Jazz” was launched on the Chess label and shortly afterwards, Lewis carried out along with his trio at Birdland in New York. That three-week stint led to performances at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Village Vanguard.

The trio additionally recorded with jazz icons Max Roach, Clark Terry and Sonny Stitt.

Lewis broke via in 1965 with the crossover hit, “The In Crowd.” The  Grammy-winning track (written by Dobie Gray) was adopted by “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water.”

The pianist’s 1974 album “Sun Goddess” and title observe had been produced by Earth, Wind and Fire’s Maurice White and featured members of EWF that includes members of Earth, Wind & Fire. It illustrated Lewis’ attraction into fusion and R&B.

According to Lewis’ household, his many honors included 5 honorary doctorate levels and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist. The single “The In Crowd” single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and personal artifacts are at the Smithsonian Institution. Lewis obtained a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Master Award, putting him within the company of piano legends together with Ahmad Jamal, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Billy Taylor and Cecil Taylor.

In June, Ravinia hosted “Legends of Jazz: Honoring Ramsey Lewis” with quite a few jazz notables together with Kurt Elling, Marquis Hill and Lizz Wright.

The jazz composer additionally hosted the weekly “Legends of Jazz” program on WDCB-FM heard Sunday afternoons. Lewis spent the final year engaged on his memoir “Gentleman of Jazz” with co-writer Aaron Cohen. The e book is ready to be launched in 2023.

He is survived by his spouse Janet Lewis; daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain (Michael); sons Kendall Kelly Lewis, Frayne Lewis (Julletta), and Bobby Lewis (Crystal); grandchildren Apryl Daniels (Dennis), Regan Lewis, Kris Jeffries (Nailah), Joshua Allain, Junell Lewis, Malachi Lewis, Aja Alain, Jordan Lewis, Ramsey Lewis IV, Dorien Olson-Lewis, Miyoshie Lewis, Meshach Lewis, Taylor Lewis, Kevai Lewis, Frayne Lewis Jr., Niya Lewis, and Asia Lewis; great-grandchildren Jalen Simmons, Dennis Daniels III, Omari Jackson; nieces Paula Jackson and Kimberly Johnson; and nephew James Johnson. He was predeceased by his sons Ramsey Lewis III and Kevyn Lewis.

On Lewis’ Facebook web page, his spouse posted this quote:

Ramsey’s ardour for music was really fueled by the love and dedication of his followers throughout the globe. He beloved touring and meeting music lovers from so many cultures and walks of life. It was our household’s nice pleasure to share Ramsey on this particular means with all those that admired his God-given skills. We are eternally grateful to your assist.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Jazz Foundation of America at


Jazz pianist,…

Posted by Ramsey Lewis on Monday, September 12, 2022

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