Rock’n’roll legend Little Richard, the man behind the 1950s hit ‘Tutti Frutti’ dies at 87
Born Richard Wayne Penniman, he was a monumental figure on the stage scene, with gospel-infused hits such as ‘Tutti Frutti,’ ‘Good Golly Miss Molly,’ ‘Lucille’ and ‘Long Tall Sally’ propelling him to stardom.
Little Richard’s contribution to formulating what rock’n’roll should be won him a place at its Hall of Fame, along with other first-year inductees like Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Elvis Presley. The artist sold more than 30 million records.
The promising musical career Little Richard seemed to have secured in the 1950s was cut short by his own choice when he gave up secular music and, eventually, became an ordained minister and gospel singer.
He returned to the stage in the 1960s, but didn’t achieve as big a commercial success. Yet his flamboyant stage persona served as an inspiration to many younger artists, from The Beatles and Bob Dylan to Prince and Elton John.
In his personal life, the artist battled with an increasingly destructive addiction to drugs before turning a new page and returning to the ministry in the late 1970s.
Little Richard’s passing was announced on Saturday by his son, Danny Penniman. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.