The magazine Rolling Stone reports that pianist and singer Little Richard is dead, 87 years old. This is confirmed by his son Danny Penniman. Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia, USA and he was a pioneer in the music genre rock and roll. He is behind famous songs such as Tutti Frutti, Good Golly Miss Molly and Long Tall Sally.
Little Richard was one of twelve siblings and has stated that he came from a family whose parents did not like rhythm and blues. His family were Seventh-day Adventists, and he became acquainted with gospel music early on. His earliest recordings in the 1950s were a mix of blues and rhythm and blues, and were heavily influenced by gospel.
Little Richard achieved a breakthrough with the song Tutti Frutti in 1955, and followed up with a series of international hits: Long Tall Sally, Rip It Up, “Lucille, Jenny Jenny, Keep A-Knockin ‘ ,Good Golly Miss Molly , Ooh! My Soul and several others. In Norway, his biggest hit was Baby Face in 1957.
With his unique singing style and fierce energy, Little Richard gained tremendous importance for the development of rock ‘n’ roll. His songs have been performed and recorded by Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Bill Haley, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding, Don Covay, Joe Tex, Larry Williams, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mitch Ryder, Hollies, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Chambers Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Isley Brothers, MC5, Queen and many, many more.
Little Richards is a very important and significant performer who has been one of the pioneers of rock. 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.