Little Richard Passes Away at 87

2020-05-10

“Little Richard” self-titled album cover – Story by Cat Badra

The founding father of rock ‘n’ roll, Little Richard, has passed away at 87

Little Richard, who is often referred to as the founding father of rock ‘n’ roll, has passed away. He was 87. No cause of death has been given.

Little Richard ruled the radio charts in the 1950s and 60s with flamboyant hits such as “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up, “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Lucille” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” His pumping piano playing, hard rocking sound and wild lyrics served as a big influence on future rock greats, everyone from The Rolling Stones to Lemmy Kilmister to Elton John.

In the sixties, Richard’s backing band, The Upsetters, included guitarist James Marshall Hendrix, eventually known as “Jimi.” Richard and Hendrix also recorded a song together in 1965 called “I Don’t Know What You Got (But It’s Got Me).”

Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He was one of 12 children and left his family at age 13. He snagged his first record deal in 1951, but it took a while for him to get chart-topping success.

As for “Tutti Frutti,” as the story goes, Richard write the song’s famed lyrics, “a wop bop a lu bop a wop bam boom,” while working as a dishwasher. In 1956, Richard sent a tape of the track to a record label in Chicago and was signed. He released a milder version of the song, and it skyrocketed to the top of the charts.

In 1957, Little Richard became an ordained minister and started making gospel music. He went back to rock ‘n roll in the mid-60s and toured the world. He continued to tour in the ’70s and started making special appearances in movies and TV shows in the ’80s.

Little Richard was also one of the first 10 musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.

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Posted by Cat Badra | Music, Rock, Rock News