The musician’s son, Danny Penniman, has confirmed his death for Rolling Stone, but the cause of death remains unknown.
Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard released a series of songs that became classics – “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” in the same year, “Lucille” in 1957 and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958.
Little Richard is considered the one who changed the music after the launch of the famous “Tutti Frutti” in the 1950s.
His famous screams, outrageous dance moves, and stage costumes set him apart from other musicians of the era and made him a name.
Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in 1932 in a poor family in Macon, Georgia, in the southern United States.
In his 1984 autobiography, he recounts that his father, who owned a bar and was killed early in his career, told him one day, “My father had seven sons and I wanted seven sons. You ruined it. all in all, you are only half a son. ”
His nickname “Little Richard” was misleading: he was 1.80 tall. A rebellious child with a disability, with legs of different lengths, he went to church, attracted by their music, and distinguished himself by his effeminate allure.
He was noticed in 1947 by a gospel singer. She begins to sing professionally in clandestine drag queen shows. In a thriving music market, the first record companies were interested in him. “Tutti Frutti”, which talks about sex between men, has become indispensable in his shows. But he never thought to record it until a producer at Specialty Records, a Los Angeles house specializing in black artists, heard the song. He suggested that she record it in the studio with “sweetened” lyrics so she could be heard on the radio.
After converting to the Church of God evangelical congregation, he married Ernestine Campbell, a church secretary, and they adopted a son. But four years later, the marriage ended after Richard was arrested for indecent behavior and caught with men in the restroom.
His views on sexuality will always remain ambivalent. In 1995, he told Penthouse: “I’ve been gay all my life and I know that God is a God of love, not hate.” But in late 2017, he told a religious television channel in Illinois that “homosexuality is contrary to human nature.”
He remained one of the most influential artists in the industry, being one of the first to be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
James Brown, Otis Redding, and Michael Jackson confessed that they were deeply inspired by the star, while Mick Jagger called Richard “my first idol in R’n’B music”.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison were also big fans of him, with the song “I’m Down” inspired by his music.
The Beatles recorded “Long Tall Sally.” Other artists have taken over Richard’s pieces, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Everly Brothers.
David Bowie said he “heard God” when he listened to “Tutti Frutti,” while Elton John was inspired to become “a rock and roll piano singer.”
While Richard never won a Grammy, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, and three of his songs “Tutti Frutti”, “Lucille” and “Long Tall Sally” – were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.