Ramsey Lewis, Legendary Jazz Pianist Known for ‘The In Crowd,’ Dies at 87

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Legendary jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, known for hits such as “The In Crowd” and “Wade in the Water,” died Monday morning at his home in Chicago. He was 87.

Lewis recorded over 80 albums in his career, during which he received five gold records and three Grammy Awards.

The jazz pianist and composer’s death was announced in a post on the official Ramsey Lewis Facebook page, stating that he “died peacefully” with no cause of death mentioned at this time.

In the notice, a quote from his wife 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.”

Born in Chicago in 1935, Lewis grew up in Cabrini Green and joined a college jazz group named the Clefs when he was just a freshman at Wells High School. The group later evolved into the Ramsey Lewis Trio, consisting of Lewis, Eldee Young and Redd Holt. In 1956, the trio released their first album, “Ramsey Lewis and His Gentleman of Jazz.”

The Ramsey Lewis Trio topped the music charts with such songs as “Hang on Sloopy,” “Wade in the Water” and 1965’s “The In Crowd,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Lewis also hosted jazz radio shows including “Legends of Jazz” and the “Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” as well as a “Legends of Jazz” TV series in 2006.

In 2007, Lewis received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Janet; daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain (Michael); sons Kendall Kelly Lewism, Frayne Lewis (Juletta) and Bobby Lewis (Crystal); and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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