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Little Richard dead at 87: Rock music legend behind Tutti Frutti passes away

Rock music legend Little Richard has died at the age of 87, his family have confirmed. 

The star, whose hits included Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, and Good Golly Miss Molly, inspired a generation of musicians.

His death was confirmed by his son Danny Penniman, Rolling Stone said. His cause of death has not been revealed.

Rock music legend Little Richard has died at the age of 87, his family have confirmed. Star is pictured in 2007

Richard was known for his outlandish looks, sporting androgynous fashion that would become the norms for mainstream acts like David Bowie. Pictured in London in 1972

Richard was known for his outlandish looks, sporting androgynous fashion that would become the norms for mainstream acts like David Bowie. Pictured in London in 1972

Richard was a trailblazer for many of the most iconic acts in modern music history. Acts like Elvis, Elton John, the Beatles, Prince and more all could trace their inspiration from the artist – known for his boisterous personality an androgynous fashion. 

With a distinctive voice that ranged from robust belting to howling falsetto, Richard transfixed audiences and became an inspiration for artists including The Beatles as he transformed the blues into the feverish new style of rock ‘n’ roll alongside Fats Domino and Chuck Berry.

The musician first hit was the 1955 song 'Tutti Frutti'. Pictured in 1965

The musician first hit was the 1955 song ‘Tutti Frutti’. Pictured in 1965

His raunchy 1955 song ‘Tutti Frutti,’ even with its gay sex theme toned down for radio, became a sort of opening salvo of rock ‘n’ roll’s entry into American life, starting with his nonsensical but instantly thrilling first line: ‘Awop bop a loo mop / Alop bam boom.’

Following ‘Tutti Frutti,’ Little Richard dominated with ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Rip It Up’ in that same year. ‘Lucille’ came in 1957 and was joined by ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ in 1958.  

‘I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,’ Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973. ‘I didn’t ever want to be anything else. I’m more of a Little Richard stylist than a Jerry Lee Lewis, I think. Jerry Lee is a very intricate piano player and very skillful, but Little Richard is more of a pounder.’ 

But if his contemporaries kept the respectabilities of old-time musicians, Richard stunned buttoned-down post-World War II America with an otherworldly look of blindingly colorful shirts, glass-embedded dinner jackets, a needle-thin moustache and a 15-centimeter (six-inch) high pompadour haircut.

Once open by the standards of his time about his attraction to men, Richard became a born-again Christian and renounced homosexuality. Pictured in 2006

Once open by the standards of his time about his attraction to men, Richard became a born-again Christian and renounced homosexuality. Pictured in 2006

A consummate entertainer since his childhood, Richard would play piano with one leg hoisted over the keys. Pictured in 1966 in London

A consummate entertainer since his childhood, Richard would play piano with one leg hoisted over the keys. Pictured in 1966 in London

A consummate entertainer since his childhood, Richard would play piano with one leg hoisted over the keys and, in one legendary concert in Britain, played dead on stage so effectively that the venue sought out medical help before he resurrected himself to an astounded crowd.

While touring, Richard’s lifestyle became the epitome of the decadence of rock ‘n’ roll. Well before the notorious wild parties of rockers in the 1960s, Richard spoke fondly of nightly orgies in his hotel rooms where he was both an avid, bisexual participant and a self-gratifying voyeur.

But Richard was one of rock’s most torn personas and he never became an obvious icon for the African American or gay communities.

While touring, Richard's lifestyle became the epitome of the decadence of rock 'n' roll. Pictured in 1956 in Los Angeles

While touring, Richard’s lifestyle became the epitome of the decadence of rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured in 1956 in Los Angeles

Once open by the standards of his time about his attraction to men, Richard became a born-again Christian and renounced homosexuality, treating it as a temporary choice in a manner that is anathema to the modern gay rights movement and psychologists.

And while he was one of the first African American artists to cross the racial divide, a younger generation of black DJs had little interest in an artist seen as embedded in the white mainstream.

Tributes quickly poured out Saturday for the late rock king, with co-founder of Chic Nile Rodgers dubbing it ‘the loss of a true giant.’

Tributes quickly poured out Saturday for the late rock king, with co-founder of Chic Nile Rodgers dubbing it 'the loss of a true giant'

Tributes quickly poured out Saturday for the late rock king, with co-founder of Chic Nile Rodgers dubbing it ‘the loss of a true giant’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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