Little Richard, Flamboyant Wild Man of Rock ’n’ Roll, Dies at 87

Delving deeply into the wellsprings of gospel music and the blues, and screaming as if for his very life, he created something new, thrilling and dangerous.

His son, Danny Jones Penniman, said the cause was cancer. He did not say where his father died.

Little Richard did not invent rock ’n’ roll. Other musicians had already been mining a similar vein by the time he recorded his first hit, “Tutti Frutti” — a raucous song about sex, its lyrics cleaned up but its meaning hard to miss — in a New Orleans recording studio in September 1955. Chuck Berry and Fats Domino had reached the pop Top 10, Bo Diddley had topped the rhythm-and-blues charts, and Elvis Presley had been making records for a year.

But Little Richard, delving deeply into the wellsprings of gospel music and the blues, pounding the piano furiously and screaming as if for his very life, raised the energy level several notches and created something not quite like any music that had been heard before — something new, thrilling and more than a little dangerous. As the rock historian Richie Unterberger put it, “He was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock ’n’ roll.”

Little Richard, flamboyant rock 'n' roll pioneer, dead at 87 ...

Art Rupe of Specialty Records, the label for which he recorded his biggest hits, called Little Richard “dynamic, completely uninhibited, unpredictable, wild.”

“Tutti Frutti” rocketed up the charts and was quickly followed by “Long Tall Sally” and other records now acknowledged as classics. His live performances were electrifying.


Sandra Z. Connelly

Sandra Z. Connelly

Sandra Z. Connelly leads is leading the DAY TO DAY & WORLD NEWS column. She has mastered the art of writing since her childhood, and with time, this has developed to be an enormous talent. When we hired her, we were definite that her skill sets would benefit our website, and gladly, we were right. Not only she has shown skills in writing, but she has also demonstrated her ability to manage time according to her work schedule.

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