Little Richard, Iconic Rock and Roll Singer, Dies at 87



Little Richard, one of the best known rock and roll artists in music history, has died after a brave battle with bone cancer.


He was 87 years old.


The sad news was confirmed to People Magazine and other reputable outlets by the singer’s long-time publicist, Dick Allen, who has released the following statement:


Little Richard passed away this morning from bone cancer in Nashville. He was living with his brother in Nashville.


He was battling for a good while, many years. I last spoke to him about two or three weeks ago. I knew he wasn’t well but he never really got into it, he just would say ‘I’m not well.’ He’s been suffering for many years with various aches and pains.


He just wouldn’t talk about it much.


Little Richard sky-rocketed to popularity due to his electrifying stage presence and lively piano skills.


He was known for such classic songs as “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”


Kelvin Holly, a longtime member of the musician’s band, shared a tribute to Little Richard on social media shortly after the news broke.


“Rest in peace Richard. This one really stings,” he wrote, adding:


“My thoughts and prayers go out to all of my bandmates and fans all over the world. Richard truly was the king!”


Born as Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, the artist took an interest in music after he took a part-time job as a teenager at the Macon City Auditorium.


His talent was eventially discovered by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who invited him to open her show — and this jump-started his career in the professional industry.


Over time, Little Richard’s work was covered by other legendary artists, from Elvis Presley to Buddy Holly.


His music also influenced a new wave of up and coming artists at the time … including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Rod Stewart.


On stage, Little Richard’s act was far ahead of its time. To wit?


He tore off his clothes. He leaped upon the piano. He embraced androgyny long before the subequent stars such as Mick Jagger, Elton John and Bowie.


“I wanted attention,” he once said.


“I always had a big head. I wasn’t that interested in money. I wanted to be famous and have a Cadillac. Where I was born the only time you rode in a Cadillac was after you were dead.”


Little Richard was iinducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, alongside his contemporaries James Brown, Presley, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke.


The Library of Congress later added the track “Tutti Frutti” to the National Recording Registry in 2010.


Richard is survived by his son, Penniman.


May he rest in peace.


UPDATE: Many more tributes have now come pouring in.


“Sadly, Little Richard passed away today,” wrote Gene Simmons, for example, adding:


“A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can’t be overstated. I had the honor of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence.


“He told me, “I am the architect of Rock And Roll.” Amen!”


Added Stevie Van Zandt:


“RIP Little Richard. The man who invented Rock and Roll. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller.


“Richard was the archetype. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted.


“We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage.”

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