We’re celebrating the life and legacy of musical legend and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, Little Richard, who would have turned 89 years old today on his birthday.
Little Richard passed away on May 9, 2020 at age 87 due to bone cancer, his son Danny Jones Penniman confirmed to Rolling Stone. Known for his fearless flamboyance, sassy stage persona, pompadour and gender-fluid style, the “Tutti Frutti” pianist-singer was a trailblazer in his own right—inspiring the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Michael Jackson and many more.
Although Richard Wayne Penniman aka Little Richard would become a rock ‘n’ roll revolutionary, his earlier days as a rambunctious child were a bit rocky. With roots in Macon, Georgia, and a below-the-bible-belt baptist upbringing, he grew up singing in the church but would later be put out on the street because of his sexuality. Little Richard overcame this setback and signed with RCA in 1951—finally charting in 1955 with his breakout hit, “Tutti Frutti.” A slew of sensational chart-topping songs, such as “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Lucille” (1957) and “Good Golly Miss Molly” (1958), would follow—rightfully earning him the nickname “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll” and donning him one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time.
Little Richard has received many well-deserved accolades, including his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. He also made appearances in several films such as The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), Mister Rock and Roll (1957), The London Rock & Roll Show (1973), Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998) and many more.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Little Richard’s family, friends and fans alike, and his musical legacy will live on in our hearts forever.
Below are some of his greatest moments.
Tutti Frutti (1956)
A Scene From The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
Good Golly Miss Molly
A Scene From Martin: Three Men and A Mouse (1992)
A Playlist of Little Richard’s Greatest Hits