Godfather & Architect of Rock and Roll Little Richard passes away at 87, a musical legend who influenced artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Hendrix & more

Written by: Alexandria Jordan – May 9th, 2020 12:53pm pst

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BHL Remembers Little Richard

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Singer, songwriter, musician, and showman extraordinaire, Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, has just passed away at the age of 87. His death was confirmed by his son, Danny Jones Penniman, as a result of cancer.

Known for his signature songs, “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally”, Little Richard was a massively influential rock and roll pioneer whose hits brought together integrated audiences during segregated times. His performances always brought something new, thrilling and dangerous.

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Referred by many as “The Innovator, The Original, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”, Little Richard’s energetic music and fascinating showmanship helped lay the foundation for the future of Rock and Roll. In a 1989 interview with Joan Rivers, Little Richard exclaimed,  “Prince is the Little Richard in this generation.” He then looked at the camera to address Prince saying, ” I looked just as good as you looked today. I was wearing purple before you was wearing it!” 

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Known for his high-energy antics, and wild, flamboyant performing style, Little Richard was able to captivate listeners and saturate rooms with endless energy. Not only did his music reach audiences worldwide, it was covered by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and many more. Even many soul artists and rock icons studied his music, such as Otis Redding, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Elton John, AC/DC, and Freddie Mercury of Queen.

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Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also a recipient of several awards, such as a Lifetime Achievement Award from Recording Academy and Rhythm and Blues Foundation. The National Museum of African American Music also awarded him the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award. In reference to his most well-known song, “Tutti Frutti”, The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress stated his “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”.

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Using capes, suits studded with multi-colored precious stones and sequins, makeup, and behaving androgynously, Little Richard kept audiences hypnotized as he erased the boundaries between sexes. Little Richard used his raw and uncontrollable sexiness to create music that made audiences feel alive!

As the world mourns Little Richard, let him always be remembered for his key role in the formation of popular music genres and helping to bring an end to the racial divide on the music charts and in concerts changing American culture significantly. 

If you love Little Richard, share this article with a friend. We’ll be keeping you updated as more information develops. 

About The Author:

Alexandria Jordan is an on-air host and red carpet correspondent with AfterBuzz TV and Black Hollywood Live. She is passionate about all things entertainment and loves connecting with people who share similar interests.

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