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:
With his exuberance, his creativity, and his refusal to be anything other than himself, Little Richard laid the foundation for generations of artists to follow. We are so lucky to have had him. Sending all my love to his family and friends today.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 9, 2020
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:
Dust To Digital is such a incredible site and curated dedication. Since we are in the era of social distancing please RT this as the ultimate tribute to The Quasar Of Rick and Roll!!! RT RT lets get a million RT on the Incredible Little Richard. My FTP lyric was a 1989 nod to him https://t.co/0ZL7V0z7kc
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) May 9, 2020
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who met Little Richard while she was in college, recalled his generosity in this tweet:
I served soul food brunch to Little Richard every Sunday for a year while waitressing at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in LA. I was a college student. He tipped me a crisp $100 bill each week on a $75 breakfast with friends. This was 30 years ago. Helped me so much. God rest his soul. https://t.co/L0vo1tPdBv
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 9, 2020
And director Spike Lee wrote this message, alongside a video:
Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll. This Is The Commercial I Directed With Little Richard And Michael Jordan, 1991. pic.twitter.com/51bEV1eYKB
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLeeJoint) May 9, 2020
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