Sunday, May 10, 2020

Groundbreaking Rock ‘n’ Roll Innovator Little Richard Dies At 87

Influential rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard died on Saturday morning from bone cancer. He was 87. Born Richard Wayne Penniman in 1932 in Macon, Georgia, Little Richard was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most important architects. He played a crucial role in the development of the genre during its infancy in the 1950s. The fiery and flamboyant musician’s amazing talent, charismatic personality and powerhouse performances made him a star and a pivotal figure in the burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll movement. His discography includes seminal rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Tutti Frutti,” “Lucille,” “Rip It Up” and “Long Tall Sally.” Little Richard lit up these tracks with his scorching gospel-infused vocals and explosive piano-playing style. His sound was a potent mix of boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, gospel and jump blues.

Little Richard’s influence is immense. It reverberates in many corners of the music and entertainment world. And he was a major source of inspiration for iconic artists such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Prince, the Rolling Stones, James Brown, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding.

Additionally, Little Richard and his music helped break down racial barriers (playing to audiences made up of black and white fans) during a time when Jim Crow segregation laws were firmly in place and strongly enforced by authorities. He was also one of the earliest well-known recording artists whose stage persona had androgynous elements, blazing a path for many gender-bending artists who followed.

 Little Richard was a trailblazer on several fronts. His many contributions to music and popular culture will forever be remembered and celebrated.

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