Rock and R&B legend Little Richard died on May 9th, 2020 at the age of 87. The legend sold more than 30 million records worldwide and was widely recognized as the “architect of rock ‘n’ roll.” Pastor Bill Minson, a close friend of Little Richard’s, told The Associated Press that Little Richard died Saturday morning. The rock icon’s agent Dick Allen later confirmed he was suffering from bone cancer.
Richard Wayne Penniman, more commonly known as Little Richard, was born in Macon, Georgia. He grew up during the Great Depression and was one of 12 children. As a child he didn’t conform to typical gender expression norms and suffered a small deformity where his right leg was shorter than his left, making him a bit of an outcast.
He had multiple successful hits including “Tutti Frutti” which made it into the Top 40 and “Lucille,” “Keep A Knockin’,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” which were all foundations of rock music according to the New York Times.
Little Richard was one of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which opened in 1986, alongside Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke and others. Little Richard is known for saying, “I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll! I am the originator!” during the 1988 Grammy Awards due in part to being a founding member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He announced his retirement from live performing back in August of 2002 but still could be seen performing the occasional show or on commercials like his appearance in a 2006 commercial for GEICO insurance.
Little Richard is known for being an influence on many musicians and claimed he paved the way for Elvis, provided Mick Jagger with his stage moves and conducted vocal lessons for McCartney according to the New York Times. Bruno Mars is known for saying Little Richard was a big influence for him.
We mourn his loss and send our condolences to his family and friends.