Ramsey Lewis, a jazz pianist, died at 87 at his Chicago home on Monday.

Ramsey Lewis, jazz pianist, and pop star dies at 87
Ramsey Lewis, jazz pianist, and pop star dies at 87

He remained musically active for more than a half-century after the hit recording “The ‘In’ Crowd” reached the Top 10 in 1965, unexpectedly making him a pop star.

Janet Lewis, his wife, had announced that he had passed away. However, she did not specify the cause of death.

The jazz world knew Lewis for his recordings with Max Roach, whom he had worked with since 1956.

However, he had little recognition after recording a live album at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington in May 1965 with his trio (Red Holt on bass and Eldee Young on drums).

One of the songs included on the album was “The ‘In’ Crowd,” released as a single a few months earlier and had been a hit for the R&B singer Dobie Gray.

There were few instrumental records on the pop charts back then, and jazz records were even rarer.

Despite that, Mr. Lewis’s bluesy piano work and the ecstatic crowd reaction helped make the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s version of “The ‘In’ Crowd” a national standard.

Eventually, it reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, eight points higher than the original version by Dobie Gray.

In the wake of Holt and Young leaving, Mr. Lewis formed a new trio with Cleveland Eaton on bass and Maurice White, who later founded Earth, Wind & Fire.

They achieved Top 40 success with a version of the spiritual “Wade in the Water.”

Mr. Lewis ended his career with a single hit, but he continued his career as a jazz musician.

Rather than retiring, he recorded dozens more albums, winning a Jazz Masters award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007.