Little Richard, Legendary Rock n Roll Artist, Has Died at 87

Little Richard. PHOTO: Courtesy IMDB

On May 9, 2020, the world lost one of its most significant musical icons, Little Richard.

Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, “Little Richard” became a household name with the success of his hit songs, “Tutti Frutti” , “Long Tall Sally and “Rip It Up”

Known as The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll, his flamboyant stage costumes, screaming vocals and over-the-top piano playing, make-up and hairstyle made Little Richard a dynamic musician who was able to crossover and bring people of all races in as his fans. Because he had such a diverse fan base , his concerts were successful in stopping segregation because everyone came to see him perform.

He was a major influence on Elvis Presley who covered at least four of his songs and on soul and funk, rhythm and blues, rock and hip hop music. In addition to Elvis Presley, his music was covered by Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, The Everly Brothers, Bene Vincent and Bill Haley.

Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Recording Academy and Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

The Beatles opened for Little Richard as well as The Everly Brothers, the Rolling Stones and Bo Diddley. In 1964, famed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix joined his band the Upsetters.

According to Johnny Otis, R&B icon, “Little Richard is twice as valid artistically and important historically as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones put together.”

He leaves his only child, his son Danny Jones Penniman.