Rock and Roll pioneer Little Richard has died at 87

The singer is remembered for his electrifying performances and upbeat music.

May 10, 2020, 7:12 PM

Rock and Roll legend Little Richard died Saturday at 87, according to his agent Dick Allen.

The singer, who is best remembered for his electrifying performances and upbeat music, is known as one of the founding fathers of rock and roll who combined genres of music like boogie, gospel and blues, and inspired the artists that followed him.

"Without a doubt -- musically, vocally and visually -- he was my biggest influence," Elton John wrote in a tweet. "Seeing him live in my teens was the most exciting event in my life at that point. Goosebumps, electricity and joy came from every pore."

Born Richard Penniman, Little Richard had his first hit in 1955 with "Tutti Frutti." He went on to produce hit after hit like "Ready Teddy," "Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Lucille," which included his falsetto "woohs!" along with cheerful piano sounds and rolling rhythms.

On stage, Little Richard was the first to display flamboyant clothing and extravagant hairstyles, which is everything we see in modern music superstars today. And he was fearless when he took the stage.

In 1986, Little Richard was part of the first class elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside nine other artists including fellow musician and friend Jerry Lee Lewis. Together, they brought "rock and roll" to the masses in the 1950s.

"He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent and his friendship!" Lewis said in a statement following Little Richard's passing. "He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly."

On social media, tributes poured in for Little Richard over the weekend.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted, "Little Richard laid the foundation for generations of artists to follow. We are so lucky to have had him."

Singer Mick Jagger, who in the past had toured with Little Richard, tweeted, "He was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you lay it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50's."

"I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me," he added.