After erroneous reports of the 87-year-old’s death circulated earlier this week, Lewis’ death was officially confirmed Friday morning. “Judith, his seventh wife, was by his side when he passed away,” rep Zach Farnum wrote in a statement. “He told her, in his final days, that he welcomed the hereafter, and that he was not afraid.”
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That same day, Dylan paused his show in England to pay his respects, telling audience members at the Motorpoint Arena: “I don’t know how many of you know, but Jerry Lee’s gone. We’re gonna play this song, one of his. Jerry Lee will live forever – we all know that.”
He then launched into an emotive rendition of “I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye,” a Don Robertson original track that Lewis covered on his Sun Records album “A Taste Of Country.”
In a 1969 interview with Rolling Stone, Dylan spoke briefly about the time he and Lewis had spent working in the same studio. He told the publication that he had written “To Be Alone With You” for the latter-day country star although Lewis never recorded it (which is why it wound up on Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” album). At the time, Lewis was hard at work on his ninth album, “She Still Comes Around (To Love What’s Left of Me.” Lewis has also famously covered Dylan’s “Rita May,” a track co-written with Jacques May and recorded during the making of Dylan’s “Desire” in the mid ’70s.
Lewis — an inaugural inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, a 2005 recipient of a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and, at the age of 86, a 2022 inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame — continues to inspire generations as a mercurial vocalist and musician with a range spanning rock ‘n’ roll, country, R&B, gospel and pop.
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