Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois in September of 1905 (September 3rd, 4th, and 13th are given as his birthdate in various sources). In his youth he was influenced by pianist Jimmy Yancey.
Although he first recorded in 1927, Lewis achieved little fame until he was brought to New York City by promoter John Hammond in 1938 when he appeared at well publicised concerts including at Carnegie Hall. The Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall launched a boogie-woogie craze, and he and two other performers from that concert, Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson became the leading boogie-woogie pianists of the day. They performed an extended engagement at Café Society and also toured and recorded as a trio.
Meade "Lux" Lewis died in an automobile accident in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1964.