Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard dies at 87

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard dies at 87
Little Richard. (Photo credit: / Bruce Yeung)

Little Richard has died at 87.

The “Tutti Frutti” hitmaker — who is widely regarded as the pioneer of rock ’n’ roll — has passed away, his son Danny Jones Penniman has confirmed. According to Rolling Stone, it is not known what the cause of his death may be.

Little Richard — whose real name is Richard Wayne Penniman — was born in Macon, Georgia, in December 1932, into a family of 12 siblings. He was discovered at the age of 14 by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who asked him to open her show. It is believed that her paying him for his performance inspired him to become a professional singer.

“Tutti Frutti” was Little Richard’s breakout hit in 1956, soaring to No. 2 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues bestsellers chart. It also made the top 25 on the Billboard Top 100 and top 30 on the British singles chart, selling a whopping million copies.

A year later, “Long Tall Sally” was released, soaring to No. 1 on the R&B charts, while also making 13th place on the Billboard Top 100. In the UK, the track made the top 10.

He had a huge music career in the decades that followed, with hits including “Rip It Up,” “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Ready Teddy.”

Tributes have flooded in from all over for the late singer on social media.

Here is a sampling:

Rocker Gene Simmons of KISS fame penned: “Sadly, Little Richard passed away today. A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can’t be overstated. I had the honor of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence. He told me, ‘I am the architect of Rock And Roll.’ Amen! … Rest In Peace. (sic)”

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson shared: “I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever. Love and Mercy, Brian (sic)”

Chuck D of Public Enemy wrote:

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who met Little Richard while she was in college, recalled his generosity in this tweet:

And director Spike Lee wrote this message, alongside a video:

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