Little Richard, the self-proclaimed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” who built his ground-breaking sound with a boiling blend of boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, and gospel, died on Saturday at the age of 87.
Richard, a Grammy Award winner and inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whose electrifying 1950s hits like Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally and flamboyant stage presence influenced legions of performers, succumbed to cancer.
“Little Richard died in Tullahoma, Tennessee of bone cancer. He was loved by his family and adored by millions,” his family said during a statement through their lawyer, Bill Sobel.
Richard’s bass guitarist, Charles Glenn, told celebrity website TMZ the musician had been sick for 2 months which he died surrounded by his brother, sister and son.
Born Richard Penniman, Little Richard was one among rock ‘n’ roll’s founding fathers who helped shatter the color line on the music charts, joining Berry and Domino in bringing what was once called “race music” into the mainstream.
Richard’s hyperkinetic piano playing, including his howling vocals and hairdo, made him a fantastic sensation – a gay, Black man celebrated across America during the buttoned-down Eisenhower era.
He sold quite 30 million records worldwide, and his influence on other musicians was equally staggering, from The Beatles and Otis Redding to Creedence Clearwater Revival and David Bowie. In his personal life, he wavered between raunch and religion, alternately embracing the Bible and outrageous behaviour.
“Little Richard? That’s rock ‘n’ roll,” Neil Young, who heard Richard’s riffs on the radio in Canada, told biographer Jimmy McDonough. “Little Richard was great on every record.”
It was 1956 when his classic Tutti Frutti landed sort of a grenade within the Top 40, exploding from radios and off turntables across the country. it had been highlighted by Richard’s memorable call of “wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom.”
A string of hits followed, providing the inspiration of rock music: Lucille, Keep A Knockin’, Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly. quite 40 years after the latter charted, Bruce Springsteen was still performing Good Golly Miss Molly live.
The Beatles’ McCartney imitated Richard’s signature yelps – perhaps most notably within the “Wooooo!” from the hit She Loves You. Ex-bandmate Lennon covered Richard’s Rip It Up and prepared Teddy on the 1975 Rock and Roll album.
When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986, he was among the charter members with Presley , Berry , Holly , Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke et al. .
Few were quicker to acknowledge Little Richard’s seminal role than Richard himself. The flamboyant singer claimed he paved the way for Elvis, provided Jagger together with his stage moves and conducted vocal lessons for McCartney.
“I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll!” Little Richard crowed at the 1988 Grammy Awards because the crowd rose during a ovation . “I am the originator!”
Richard Penniman was born in Macon, Georgia, during the good Depression, one among 12 children. He was ostracised because he was effeminate and suffered alittle deformity: his right leg was shorter than his left.
The family was religious and Richard sang in local churches with a gaggle called the small Tots. The tug-of-war between his upbringing and rock ‘n’ roll excess tormented Penniman throughout his career.
Penniman was performing with bands by the age of 14, but there have been problems reception over his sexual orientation. His father beat the boy and derided him as “half a son”.
Richard left home to hitch a company travel by a person referred to as Sugarloaf Sam, occasionally appearing in drag.
In late 1955, Little Richard recorded the bawdy Tutti Frutti, with lyrics that were sanitised by a replacement Orleans songwriter. It went on to sell a million records over subsequent year.
When Little Richard’s hit was banned by many white-owned radio stations, white performers like Pat Boone and Presley did cover versions that topped the charts.
Little Richard visited Hollywood with an appearance in Don’t Knock the Rock. But his wild lifestyle remained at odds together with his faith, and a conflicted Richard quit the business in 1957 to enrol during a theological school and obtain married.
Richard remained on the charts when his label released previously recorded material. And he recorded a gospel record, returning to his roots.
A 1962 arrest for a homosexual encounter during a bus terminal toilet led to his divorce and return to performing.
He mounted three tours of England between 1962 and 1964, with the Beatles and therefore the Rolling Stones serving as opening acts. Back within the US, he put together a band that included guitarist Hendrix – and later fired Hendrix when he was late for a bus.
In 1968, Richard hit Las Vegas and relaunched his career. Within two years, he had another hit single and made the duvet of Rolling Stone.
By the mid-1970s, Richard was battling a $1,000-a-day cocaine problem and once more abandoned his musical career. He returned to religion, selling Bibles and renouncing homosexuality. For quite a decade, he vanished.
“If God can save an old homosexual like me, he can save anybody,” Richard said.
But he returned, in 1986, in spectacular fashion. Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and appeared within the movie Down and call at Beverly Hills .
A Little Richard song from the soundtrack, Great Gosh A’Mighty, even put him back on the charts for the primary time in additional than 15 years. Little Richard was back to remain , enjoying another dose of celebrity that he fully embraced.
Macon, Georgia, named a street after its favorite son . and tiny Richard was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In August 2002, he announced his retirement from live performing. But he continued to seem frequently on television, including a humorous appearance on a 2006 commercial for GEICO insurance.
Richard had hip surgery in November 2009 at Vanderbilt University center in Nashville and asked fans at the time to wish for him. He lived within the Nashville area at the time.