In Memoriam|

Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr. (May 27, 1935 – September 12, 2022) was an American jazz composer, pianist, and radio personality. Lewis recorded over 80 albums and received five gold records and three Grammy Awards in his career. His album The In Crowd earned Lewis critical praise and the 1965 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance. His best known singles include “The In Crowd”, “Sun Goddess”, and “Wade in the Water”. Until 2009, he was the host of the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on the Chicago radio station WNUA.

Lewis was also active in musical education in Chicago. He founded the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, established the Ravinia’s Jazz Mentor Program and served on the board of trustees for the Merit School of Music and The Chicago High School for the Arts.

Ramsey Lewis was born on May 27, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, to Ramsey Lewis Sr. and Pauline Lewis. He began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As a young man, Lewis played with a number of local ensembles, such as Edward Virgil Abner’s Knights of Music. Lewis would eventually join a jazz group called the clefs. He later formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with drummer Isaac “Red” Holt and bassist Eldee Young. They eventually joined up with Chess Records.

In 1956, the trio issued their debut album, Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Swing. Following their 1965 hit “The In Crowd” (the single reached No. 5 on the pop charts, and the album No. 2) they concentrated more on pop material. Young and Holt left in 1966 to form Young-Holt Unlimited and were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White. White left to form Earth, Wind & Fire and was replaced by Morris Jennings in 1970. Later, Frankie Donaldson and Bill Dickens replaced Jennings and Eaton; Felton Crews also appeared on Lewis’ 1981 album Three Piece Suite.

By 1966, Lewis was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, having had hits with “The In Crowd”, “Hang On Sloopy”, and “Wade in the Water”. All three singles each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs. In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic and using an additional keyboardist in his groups.

In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosted the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990, syndicated by United Stations Radio Networks.[10] He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago “smooth jazz” radio station WNUA (95.5 FM). In December 2006, this morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture’s Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz stations across the country until its cancellation in May 2009, when WNUA switched over to a Spanish format.

Ramsey founded the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, which promoted musical instrument education to children, in 2005.

In 2006, a well-received 13-episode Legends of Jazz television series hosted by Lewis was broadcast on public TV nationwide and featured live performances by a variety of jazz artists including Larry Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny, and Tony Bennett.
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Lewis died in his sleep at his home in Chicago, on September 12, 2022, at age 87.

Read the rest of Mr. Lewis’ very extensive and award-winning biography here:

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Our music community continues to lose our talented artists – staggering loses. We are going to miss them so much. If you want to know more about any of the musicians we lost, please check them out at http://www.wikipedia.com

September 2022
14: David Andersson, 47, Swedish heavy metal guitarist (Soilwork) (death announced on this date); Irene Papas, 93, Greek actress (Zorba the Greek, The Guns of Navarone, Z) and singer, complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

13: Jack Charles, 79, Australian actor (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Blackfellas, Tom White) and musician; Kornelije Kovac, 80, Serbian composer and musician (Korni Grupa, Indexi); Jesse Powell*, 51, American R&B singer (“All I Need”, “I Wasn’t with It”, “You”), cardiac arrest.

12: Dennis East, 73, South African songwriter and record producer, stroke; Ramsey Lewis, 87, American jazz pianist (“The ‘In’ Crowd”), composer and radio personality (WNUA), Grammy winner (1966, 1967, 1974); PnB Rock, 30, American rapper (“Selfish”), shot.

10: Paulino Bernal, 83, American accordionist and Christian evangelist; Jorja Fleezanis, 70, American violinist; Choichi Terukina, 90, Japanese Ryukyuan musician.

9: Carol Arnauld, 61, French singer-songwriter; Herschel Sizemore, 87, American bluegrass mandolinist; Trevor Tomkins, 81, British jazz drummer (Gilgamesh) (death announced on this date).

8: Marciano Cantero, 62, Argentine singer (Enanitos Verdes); Sonny West, 85, American songwriter (“Oh, Boy!”, “Rave On”) and musician.

7: Dave Sherman, 55, American rock bassist and singer (Spirit Caravan, Earthride, Wretched) (death announced on this date).


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