Little Richard, the iconic musician known for such hits as “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly,” is being remembered across the music world for embodying the “true spirit” of rock ‘n’ roll.
One of the pioneers of rock music, Little Richard died Saturday at age 87. The singer-songwriter’s son Danny Jones Penniman told Rolling Stone his father had been battling cancer.
Born Richard Penniman on Dec. 5, 1932, the Macon, Georgia native would eventually find fame and inspire generations of musicians including David Bowie and Otis Redding. Little Richard’s catalog of hits is still performed to this day, with his songs recorded by such acts as The Beatles, The Kinks and the Everly Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival among many others.
As news of the musician’s death spread, his friends, admirers and celebrity fans shared tributes on social media.
“God bless little Richard one of my all-time musical heroes. Peace and love to all his family,” Ringo Starr tweeted.
“I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard, he was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50’s,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said in a statement on social media.
“So sad to hear that my old friend Little Richard has passed. There will never be another!!! He was the true spirit of Rock’n Roll!” added Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
Little Richard’s fellow rock ‘n’ roll piano pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis said: “It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow Rocker Little Richard. He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent and his friendship! He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly. God bless his family and fans. Rest in peace, my friend. Love eternally.”
Quincy Jones, who collaborated with Little Richard, lamented that it was a painful day with the passing of Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell hours earlier.
“Absolutely heartbroken this morning at also hearing the news of the passing of my bro & friend, the great Little Richard,” Jones tweeted.
Spike Lee, who made a Nike commercial with Little Richard and Michael Jordan, also remembered the late singer-songwriter-pianist.
“Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll. This Is The Commercial I Directed With Little Richard And Michael Jordan, 1991,” Lee tweeted, along with video of the commercial.
“The King of Rock and Roll,” added Patti LaBelle, along with heart and angel emojis.
Singer-songwriter Steven Van Zandt said Little Richard embodied the spirit of rock music.
“RIP Little Richard. The man who invented It. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard embodied the Spirit of RocknRoll. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. Were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage,” Van Zandt tweeted.
The Monkees drummer, Micky Dolenz, called him “one of the last greats” in a statement to Deadline.
“Without a doubt … a true original. And a huge influence on my singing style,” Dolenz said. “When he was on the The Monkee’s TV special, 33⅓ Revolutions per Monkee, he once again, blew me away. It was amazing to watch him work up-close-and-personal. One of the last greats!”
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