Ramsey Lewis, a jazz pianist who surprisingly rose to fame when his album of “The ‘In’ Crowd” entered the Top 10 in 1965 and continued to perform for over 50 years, passed away on Monday at his Chicago home. He was 87. His passing was reported on his website. It was not explained why.
In May 1965, Mr. Lewis and his trio—Eldee Young on bass and Redd Holt on drums—recorded a live album at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington. Mr. Lewis, who had been in charge of his own group since 1956, had recorded with the renowned drummer Max Roach and was well-known in jazz circles but little known elsewhere.
Jazz records were even more uncommon at the time than instrumental records on the pop charts. But the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s version of “The ‘In’ Crowd” became a standard on radio stations and jukeboxes all over the country because to its contagious groove, Mr. Lewis’s bluesy piano performance, and the enthusiastic audience response. Eight points higher than the Dobie Gray original, it peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In addition to his wife Janet, Mr. Lewis is survived by his sons Kendall, Frayne, and Bobby Lewis, daughters Denise Jeffries and Dawn Allain, 17 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Ramsey Lewis III and Kevyn Lewis, his kids, passed away before him.