Lewis died in his sleep at his Chicago home on Monday, according to his son, Bobby Lewis.

Chicago – Famous jazz pianist Ramsey Lewiswhose music entertained fans in a more than 60-year career that began with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and made him one of the country’s most successful jazz musicians, has died. He was 87 years old.

Lewis is revered in jazz circles for such 1960s hits as “The In Crowd,” “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water.” He won three Grammy Awards and seven gold records. The trio’s first record was “Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing” in 1956.

Lewis died in his sleep at his Chicago home on Monday, according to his son, Bobby Lewis.

“He was completely relaxed,” Bobby Lewis told The Associated Press on Monday night. “Most people say when they met Dad he was a class act. He was like that till his last breath.”

Ramsey Lewis described his approach to composing and performing in a 2011 interview with the AP.

“Life is a solo, and it goes on,” Lewis said, sitting at the dining room table in his Chicago home. “All I know is that when I put my hands on the piano, it will flow.”

Lewis first took piano lessons at the age of 4. He spent his early days in Chicago using his gospel and classical roots to create his jazz style at many neighborhood venues that hired young jazz musicians.

“It gave us a lot of opportunity to try out our ideas and learn what it means to perform in front of an audience,” Lewis said when he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2007. He accepted the award from his mentor and fellow jazz master, pianist Billy Taylor.

During her career, Lewis performed with musical stars such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Algerio and Pat Metheny. Lewis had more than 80 albums – three dozen of them with Chess Records in Chicago. He toured the world and performed at a 1995 state dinner hosted by then-President Bill Clinton for Brazilian President Fernando Henrique.

The Chicago native began composing large-scale musical works later in his career. His first was an eight-movement piece for Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. He also completed a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln – “Declaration of Hope: A Symphonic Poem by Ramsey Lewis.”

Lewis also hosted radio shows in the 1990s and 2000s, including “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show” and “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis” on WNUA-FM. In 2007, he hosted “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” a weekly program that aired on public television stations nationwide.

The show’s creators say it’s the first time in 40 years that jazz has been featured on a weekly basis on network television. It featured jazz greats and up-and-comers.

Lewis also spent time working on behalf of charities that bring music to young people.

“In the last year of his life he was working on his memoirs,” said Steele, whose Tampa, Florida-based Steele Management has represented Lewis since 2011. “It’s finished and coming out next year.

In addition to his son, Lewis is survived by his wife, Janet; daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Elaine; two other sons, Kendall Kelly Lewis and Fran Lewis; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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