Ramsey Lewis, a Chicago-based jazz pianist and composer, who was sampled by countless artists and performed with a number of legendary singers, died on Monday at 87. The cause of death has not been given.
The news was shared in a Facebook post on Lewis’ page that read, “Jazz pianist, three-time Grammy winner, and NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis, who successfully crossed over from the Jazz charts to the Pop charts, most notably with his smash hit “The In Crowd,” died peacefully at his home in Chicago on the morning of September 12.”
A statement from Ramsey’s widow, Janet Lewis read, “Ramsey’s passion for music was truly fueled by the love and dedication of his fans across the globe. 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. We are forever grateful for your support.”
Throughout his career, Lewis worked with some of the most iconic singers in the history of music, such as Al Jerreau, Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin.
Ramsey was also sampled by many iconic rap artists most notably A Tribe Called Quest on ”Electric Relaxation” and “One Two Shit,” Souls of Mischief on “Make Your Mind Up,” and famously by the Fugees on “Fu-Gee-La” and “How Many Mics.”
According to the Facebook post, Ramsey is survived by his wife, Janet Lewis; his daughters, Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain; his sons, Kendall Kelly Lewis, Frayne Lewis and Bobby Lewis; and a plethora of other grandchildren and relatives.
More from the Facebook post:
Ramsey E. Lewis Jr. was born in Chicago on May 27, 1935. Growing up in the Cabrini Green housing project, he began taking piano lessons at age four and played piano at church, where his father was choir director. A jazz fan who played lots of Duke Ellington and Art Tatum at home and took his son to jazz concerts, Ramsey Lewis Sr. encouraged Ramsey to embrace that music.
His contributions to music will forever be missed.