Little Richard “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll” has passed away

Little Richard

Flamboyant singer Little Richard has passed away.

Little Richard, the self-proclaimed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” whose piercing wail, pounding piano and towering pompadour irrevocably altered popular music while introducing black R&B to white America, has died Saturday. He was 87.

Pastor Bill Minson, a close friend of Little Richard, told The Associated Press that he died Saturday morning. Minson said he also spoke to Little Richard’s son and brother.

Born Richard Penniman, he was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s founding fathers who helped shatter the color line on the music charts, joining Chuck Berry and Fats Domino in bringing what was once called “race music” into the mainstream. Richard’s hyperkinetic piano playing, coupled with his howling vocals and hairdo, made him an implausible sensation — a gay, black man celebrated across America during the buttoned-down Eisenhower era. Read more here

About Little Richard
Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits – “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 – driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics. “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,” Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973. “I didn’t ever want to be anything else. I’m more of a Little Richard stylist than a Jerry Lee Lewis, I think. Jerry Lee is a very intricate piano player and very skillful, but Little Richard is more of a pounder.”
He appeared in the music video and sang lead vocals on the song “Voices That Care”.
He presided over the 1987 Las Vegas marriage of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore at the Golden Nugget Hotel. Former brat packer Ally Sheedy was a bridesmaid.
He was voted the 8th Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.
He was one of the greatest musical influences on Paul McCartney and David Bowie. According to producer Nile Rodgers, Richard was the initial inspiration for Bowie’s biggest ever album, “Let’s Dance” (1983). Bowie once said: “When I heard Little Richard, it just set my world on fire”.
Jimi Hendrix was a member of one of his touring bands, before Hendrix launched his solo career.
He became close to The Beatles when he toured England in the early 1960s. He and Beatles manager Brian Epstein got along especially well; Epstein persuaded him to lend his personal microphone to another singer when the stage mike failed, and to perform an extra concert.
He knew James Brown from when they were teenagers.
He has one leg three inches shorter than the other; would sometimes wake up from a night of partying, with one pant-leg cuff noticeably frayed from walking barefoot.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on June 21, 1990.
He was awarded a star on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee in November 2008.
He was awarded a star on the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame in Manhattan, New York City on May 11, 2010.
He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (1984), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame (2002), and the American Songwriters Hall of Fame (2003).
He was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame (2006), the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (2009), the Blues Hall of Fame (2015), and the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame (2015).
Was the third born child in his family, with five sisters and six brothers.
Had five sisters: Leva “Sylvia”, Elnora “Peggie”, Freka Merrill, Artis “Elaine” Harmison, and Gail.
Had six brothers: Horace “Tony” Penniman, Walter Penniman, Robert Penniman, Charles Penniman Jr., Marquette Penniman, and Peyton Penniman.
His nieces include Charita Penniman and Laudina Penniman, and his nephews include Charles Penniman II and Dena Penniman.
With Ernestine Campbell, had a son named Danny Penniman.
His mother was Leva Mae Penniman, and his father was Charles “Bud” Penniman.