He broke music barriers throughout his career. He was the father of Rock with hits like “Tutti Fruiti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Sadly, musician Little Richard has passed away at the age of 87.
Little Richard, a founding father of rock and roll whose fervent shrieks, flamboyant garb, and joyful, gender-bending persona embodied the spirit and sound of that new art form, died Saturday. He was 87. The musician’s son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed the pioneer’s death to Rolling Stone, adding that the cause of death was cancer.
He had an incalculable influence on the frenetic attitude of rock music, long after his heyday and his extended forays into religious music. He saw his sound and its feeling of howling abandon as rock incarnate. As he often said, “My music made your liver quiver, your bladder splatter, your knees freeze — and your big toe shoot right up in your boot!”
Little Richard’s road band, the Upsetters, lived up to their name, by outdoing the frantic rhythms on his records. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix — then calling himself Maurice James — was an Upsetter in 1964 and 1965, appearing on such records as “It Don’t Know What You’ve Got, but It’s Got Me.”
Following the peak of his rock ‘n’ roll career, Little Richard became an ordained minister and released a gospel album called God Is Real.
RIP Little Richard, you will be missed but your influence will live on.