Tributes paid to rock n’ roll legend Little Richard, who has died aged 87

"The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll"

Tributes have been paid to rock n’ roll originator Little Richard, who has passed away aged 87.

The icon, real name Richard Wayne Penniman, known as a founding father of rock n’ roll and renowned for his flamboyant style and free-spirited attitude, died today (Saturday, May 9). His son Danny Jones Penniman confirmed his death to Rolling Stone. His lawyer Bill Sobel later confirmed that the cause of death was bone cancer.

Born in Macon, Georgia, on December 5, 1932, Little Richard was one of 12 children. His father was a preacher who also ran a nightclub, and his mother was a devout Baptist.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 in 1998, he said he started singing because he wanted to stand out from his siblings.

“I was the biggest head of all, and I still have the biggest head,” he said. “I did what I did, because I wanted attention. When I started banging on the piano and screaming and singing, I got attention.”

As an artist, Little Richard’s breakthrough came in 1956 with the single ‘Tutti Frutti’, before cementing his fame and reputation with the quickfire run of hits ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘Lucille’ and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, among others. His 1957 debut album ‘Here’s Little Richard’ remains a template for the genre.

Earning the nickname “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”, he had an immeasurable influence across the world of music – inspiring the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elton John and countless more.

Little Richard was among the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and in the same year he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 1993.

Tributes have already started to roll in for the musical pioneer.

Mick Jagger wrote a lenghty and heartfelt post on Instagram. “I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard, he was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50’s,” he said of the icon.

“When we were on tour with him I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me. He contributed so much to popular music. I will miss you Richard, God bless.”

Tom Jones posted a video of he and Little Richard performing together, writing: “To my dear Richard,⁣⁣⁣ ⁣You’re a true original, you broke all the rules and you weren’t afraid to show it. A magnificent talent and an inspiration to so many of us. ⁣⁣⁣⁣My heart goes out to your loved ones, RIP my friend.”

To my dear Richard,⁣⁣⁣⁣You're a true original, you broke all the rules and you weren’t afraid to show it. A magnificent talent and an inspiration to so many of us. ⁣⁣⁣⁣My heart goes out to your loved ones, RIP my friend.

Posted by Tom Jones on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys wrote: “I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever.”

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl shared an autographed picture of Little Richard on Twitter. “I was once asked, “If u could meet one person, who would it be?” I always said Little Richard,” he wrote. “Because, to me, he was rock & roll’s most joyus, rebellious innovator. Thank u for planting that seed, Richard. The world is a much happier place thanks to ur music.”

“I just heard the news about Little Richard and I’m so grieved,” Bob Dylan shared on Facebook. “He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was only a little boy. His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything I would do.

“I played some shows with him in Europe in the early nineties and got to hang out in his dressing room a lot. He was always generous, kind and humble. And still dynamite as a performer and a musician and you could still learn plenty from him. In his presence he was always the same Little Richard that I first heard and was awed by growing up and I always was the same little boy. Of course he’ll live forever. But it’s like a part of your life is gone.”

I just heard the news about Little Richard and I’m so grieved. He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was…

Posted by Bob Dylan on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Flatbush Zombies rapper Meechy Darko tweeted that Little Richard was “one of the most important musicians to ever fuckin live,” before adding that he “never ever got his flowers the right way.”

The actor Leon, who portrayed the rock n roll icon in the 2000 biopic Little Richard, wrote: “Little Richard, the #architect & founding father of #rockandroll died this morning. I was blessed to portray him in his authorized #biopic #littlerichard directed my #fiveheartbeats brother “Duck” @Robert_Townsend#RIP You made a mark on the world that will #neverbeforgotten

David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, recalled his father telling him about Little Richard when he was younger, saying that it was “very likely [Bowie] would not have taken the path he did without the huge influence of Little Richard.”

“If one could claim to sum up the spirit of rock’n’roll, it’s this one,” Billy Bragg said of the icon. “So long, Little Richard.”

Ringo Starr took to Twitter to pay tribute, writing that Little Richard was one of his “all-time musical heroes.” He added: “Peace and love to all his family.”

 

See more tributes to the fallen rock n’ roll icon below:

 

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