Lewis, pictured in 1957, was famed for songs such as Great Balls of Fire.
Jerry Lee Lewis, the rock’n’roll pioneer who became one of the most infamous figures in music, has died aged 87, his publicist has said.
Lewis’s energetic performances on songs including Great Balls of Fire helped make rock’n’roll the dominant American pop music of the 1950s.
Elton John was among those to pay tribute on social media.
“Without Jerry Lee Lewis, I wouldn’t have become who I am today.
He was groundbreaking and exciting, and he pulverized the piano.
A brilliant singer too,” he tweeted.
“Thank you for your trailblazing inspiration and all the rock‘n’roll memories.”
Jerry Lee Lewis: A Rebel Rocker to the End
Ringo Starr said “God bless Jerry lee Lewis”, while Gene Simmons called him “one of the pioneers of rock‘n’roll” and “a rebel to the end”.
Lewis was born in Louisiana in 1935, the son of a poor farming family who mortgaged their home to buy his first piano.
While learning the instrument and studying at an evangelical school, he was kicked out for performing a boogie-woogie version of My God Is Real.
He did not return to education, and began playing live – his first performance at the age of 14 was at the opening of a car dealership.
He developed a theatrical, boisterous style that chimed with the energy of the nascent rock’n’roll scene, and began playing at Sun Studios in Memphis, first as a studio musician and then as a solo artist.
Some of his earliest recordings were made in 1956 with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, a group later nicknamed the Million Dollar Quartet.
Lewis’s breakthrough came the following year, with Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, a barnstorming piano-driven rock’n’roll single.
He followed that Top 3 song with his greatest success, Great Balls of Fire, which reached No 2 on the US charts and became one of the definitive songs of the rock’n’roll era.
During a 1958 UK tour, he was embroiled in scandal after it was revealed he had married his 13-yearold cousin, Myra Brown – the third of his seven marriages.
The rest of his tour was cancelled.
Lewis’s wild-man reputation cemented his nickname, The Killer, earned from his habit of describing acquaintances with the Louisiana slang of “killer”.
After a 13-year marriage to Brown, his fourth and fifth marriages were even more notorious.
Jaren Pate and Shawn Stephens both died in suspicious circumstances – the former by drowning, while domestic abuse rumours surrounded the latter.
Lewis recorded 40 albums, the last one being Rock & Roll Time in 2014.