The music industry is mourning the loss of a legend today. On Saturday, it was reported that Little Richard, a founding father of rock, has died. He was 87. A cause of death for the singer is currently unknown. The news of the musician's death was confirmed by his son, Danny Penniman, to Rolling Stone.
Richard, whose full name is Richard Wayne Penniman, was born on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He emerged onto the music scene in 1956 upon the release of his song, "Tutti Frutti." He then released a string of popular hits including "Long Tall Sally," "Lucille," and "Good Golly Miss Molly." Richard drew much attention for his flamboyant style, sexually charged lyrics, and his electric stage persona. He even influenced many prominent artists including Prince and Elton John. As John even told Rolling Stone in 1973 about Richard, “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it. 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.”
Of course, as his fans are well aware, Richard is largely known as one of the founders of rock and roll music. In an interview with Rolling Stone that was conducted back in 1990, the musician even addressed his influence on the rock scene. When asked directly whether he invented rock and roll, the late singer shared that he did indeed consider himself to be one of the architects of the genre.
"When I started singing [rock & roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public, because I was afraid they wouldn’t like it. I had never heard nobody do it, and I was scared," he shared at the time. "I was inspired by Mahalia Jackson, Roy Brown and a gospel group called Clara Ward and the Ward Singers and a guy by the name of Brother Joe May. I got the holler that you hear me do – “woo-ooh-ooh” – from a lady named Marion Williams. And this thing you hear me do – “Lucille-uh” – I got that from Ruth Brown I used to like die way she’d sing, “Mama-uh, he treats your daughter mean.” I put it all together."
He added, "I really feel from the bottom of my heart that I am the inventor. If there was somebody else, I didn’t know than, didn’t hear them, haven’t heard them. Not even to this day. So I say I’m the architect."