Rock N’ Roll Pioneer Little Richard Dead at Age 87
Little Richard, one of the great founding fathers of rock music, has passed away at the age of 87. Richard’s son, Danny Jones Penniman, has told Rolling Stone that the cause of death is unknown.
Born Richard Penniman, Little Richard not only helped create rock n’ roll — and therefore heavy metal — but as a gay African-American during the Eisenhower era, he successfully broke through multiple barriers to achieve his success.
The Associated Press reports that Little Richard sold more than 30 million records worldwide. His long list of hits include “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Lucille,” “Keep A Knockin’,” and “Long Tall Sally.”
Lest anyone doubt Little Richard’s relevancy to heavy music, Metal Injection points out that Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister openly cited him as one of his greatest influences. In a 2011 Chicago Tribune profile, Kilmister said that “Little Richard sang how I felt. I was 12 years old when I first heard him and that music, and I felt it was mine.” Later that same year, Kilmister told Louder Than War that Little Richard “was the king.”
You can watch Kilmister and Dave Grohol say more about Little Richard in the below videos:
And here’s Little Richard performing the song “Elvis is Dead” with Little Richard on The Arsenio Hall Show: