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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Little Richard, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and music icon, dies at 87

Little Richard, the pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll whose music career spanned seven decades, has died at the age of 87, according to his son.

Daniel Penniman confirmed the news of his father’s Saturday morning death, Rolling Stone reports. The cause of death is unknown at this time.

Every thing that rock and roll became notorious for — flamboyance, sexual androgyny, reckless on stage abandon — was borne by Little Richard in the 1950s. His hits like “Tutti Fruitti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Lucille” became music standards, thanks to his powerful singing voice and his virtuoso piano playing.

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Born Richard Penniman, Dec. 5, 1932, Little Richard was raised in the church in his native Macon, GA. He left home at the age of 13 due to his father’s disapproving of his love of secular music and accusing him of being a homosexual. From there he stayed with a local family, befriended Otis Redding and signed a record deal in 1951 after winning a local talent show.

Musical guest Little Richard during a performance on The Tonight Show on June 6, 1994 — (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

The contract did not lead to hits, and Richard was washing dishes a few years later. However, he hit pay dirt after sending a demo of “Tutti Fruitt” to Specialty Records in Chicago. The song became a smash in 1955.

Little Richard set the music business on fire the next few years with a string of hits like “Long Tall Sally” and “Rit It Up.”

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Richard retired at the height of his success in 1958, vowing only to perform gospel music after dreams and premonitions of his demise. He became an ordained minister and released spiritual albums until returning to secular music in 1964.

Although he’d never again reach the high-charting success of the 1950s, he influence on artists from members of The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix, Elton John and Prince had secured his place in music history.

Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame‘s inaugural 1986 class.

The post Little Richard, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and music icon, dies at 87 appeared first on TheGrio.

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