Little Richard has died aged 87.
The 'Tutti Frutti' hitmaker — who is widely regarded as the pioneer of rock and roll — has passed away, his son Danny Jones Penniman, has confirmed. According to Rolling Stone, it is not known what the cause of his death may be.
Little Richard — whose real name is Richard Wayne Penniman — was born in Macon, Georgia, in December 1932, into a family of 12 siblings. He was discovered at the age of 14 by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who asked her to open his show. It is believed her paying him for his performance inspired him to become a professional singer.
'Tutti Frutti' was Little Richard's breakout hit in 1956, soaring to number two on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues bestsellers chart. It also made the top 25 on the Billboard Top 100 and top 30 on the British singles chart, selling a whopping million copies.
A year later, 'Long Tall Sally' was released, soaring to number one on the R&B charts, whilst also making 13th place on the Billboard Top 100. In the UK, the track made the top 10.
A huge career in music followed in the decades following, with hits including 'Rip It Up', 'The Girl Can't Help It' and 'Ready Teddy'.
Tributes have flooded in for the late singer on social media.
The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson shared: "I'm very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard's music will last forever. Love and Mercy, Brian (sic)"
I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever.— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) May 9, 2020
Love & Mercy, Brian pic.twitter.com/kcak6Rf4Re
Kiss Gene Simmons penned: "Sadly, Little Richard passed away today. A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can't be overstated. I had the honour of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence. He told me, 'I am the architect of Rock And Roll.' Amen! ... Rest In Peace. (sic)"
Sadly, Little Richard passed away today. A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can’t be overstated. I had the honor of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence. He told me, “I am the architect of Rock And Roll.” Amen! ..Rest In Peace. https://t.co/ceQuNU6pkF— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) May 9, 2020
Foo FIghters wrote: "I was once asked, “If u could meet one person, who would it be?” I always said Little Richard. Because, to me, he was rock & roll’s most joyous, rebellious innovator.
I was once asked, “If u could meet one person, who would it be?” I always said Little Richard. Because, to me, he was rock & roll’s most joyous, rebellious innovator.— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) May 9, 2020
Thank u for planting that seed, Richard. The world is a much happier place thanks to ur music.#RIPLittleRichard pic.twitter.com/kiq2VOZs8O
Elsewhere, filmmaker Ava DuVernay remembers an encounter with Little Richard.
I served soul food brunch to Little Richard every Sunday for a year while waitressing at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in LA. I was a college student. He tipped me a crisp $100 bill each week on a $75 breakfast with friends. This was 30 years ago. Helped me so much. God rest his soul. https://t.co/L0vo1tPdBv— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 9, 2020
Another filmmaker, Spike Lee, wrote, alongside a video: "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. (sic)"
Rest In Peace, Little Richard 🙏— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) May 9, 2020
He played “Genie” in the 1991 commercial for the Air Jordan 6 with Spike Lee and Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/K7OothqIdg