A rock’n’roll legend has died out. Sometimes overused, the expression is not too strong to evoke Little Richard, who died Saturday at 87 years, announced his son Danny Penniman to the magazine Rolling Stone.
The cause of death has not been clarified by the musician’s family. During his career, Little Richard helped shape rock’n’roll, to the point of being considered one of its creators. He has also influenced several generations of musicians.
Longevity and influences
Among his hits are rock classics like Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally and Good Golly Miss Molly. The highlight of his career thus took place in the 1950s with songs accompanied by wild stage performances. He then favored a calmer style, close to gospel.
His influence was nevertheless considerable. The first great white rockers – Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley – all took up his songs.
Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones played in the early stages of his concerts, and young Jimi Hendrix started out as a musician in his group.
At nine, David Bowie was fascinated when he saw a film by Little Richard. “Without him, I probably would never have become a musician,” he admitted later.
Over the past four decades, his music has been taken up a lot and has inspired rock, pop and soul legends, from Michael Jackson to Otis Redding as well as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. In 1986, he was one of the first artists to enter the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
His real name Richard Wayne Penniman, Little Richard was born on December 5, 1932 to a poor family in Macon, Georgia.
In his 1984 autobiography, he said that his father, who ran a bar and was shot dead early in his career, once said to him, “My father had seven sons, and I wanted seven sons too.” You ruined everything, you’re only half a son.”
His nickname was misleading: the man was 1.80 m tall. A rebellious child, handicapped by two legs of different length, he hung around in churches, attracted by their music, and distinguished himself by his effeminate gaits.