9th May 2020 – (U.S.) Little Richard has died, as Rolling Stone reports. The rock ‘n’ roll original was 87 years old; at this time, a cause of death has not been reported. Known for his wild, flamboyant performing style, Richard Wayne Penniman inspired young musicians all over the world. Born in Macon, Georgia—the second of 12 children—he was kicked out of his family’s home as a teenager and taken in by a white family, who ran the club where he first performed. He got his start performing jump blues, but his most famous and successful work—songs like “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly”—came in the mid-1950s.
His music was covered by contemporaries like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Bill Haley. A wave of young British musicians—the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Lemmy Kilmister, to name a few—cited Little Richard as an influence. Elsewhere in the world, Richard was being studied by soul stars (Otis Redding, James Brown, Michael Jackson) and rock icons (Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, AC/DC).
In the late 1950s, he abandoned the raucous style of his early singles to pursue a career as a gospel artist. He would eventually return to rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s. Later in life, Richard made appearances in children’s programming and recorded a children’s album. He sang the theme song to The Magic School Bus, sang “Rubber Ducky” inside a bath tub on Sesame Street, and was a guest star on Pee-wee’s Christmas Special.
Little Richard was among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first class of inductees in 1986. He received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and performed at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration in 1992. The Library of Congress added “Tutti Frutti” to the National Recording Registry in 2010.
In recent years, the once-dynamic performer has taken a break from the concert stage. He fell ill during a show in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2012. The following September, Little Richard suffered a heart attack. He described the incident to Cee Lo Green during an interview in Atlanta: “The other night, I didn’t know I was having a heart attack. I was coughing, and my right arm was aching.’
The singer took baby aspirin, which his doctor credited with saving his life. The deeply religious music icon attributed his survival to a higher power: “Jesus had something for me. He brought me through.”