On Saturday, Little Richard passed away, and he was mourned by other music legends including Stevie Van Zandt. Fans and colleagues alike lauded Richard's musical legacy, and credited him with building the foundation for much of the music that followed. Van Zandt said in no uncertain terms that Richard "invented Rock and Roll."
Van Zandt took to Twitter on Saturday to mourn Little Richard along with much of the rest of the world. He did not mince words when it came to Richard's influence, saying that he "invented" the rock 'n' roll genre, and that other musicians like Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry simply played a part. "Richard was the archetype," he wrote. "We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage."
RIP Little Richard. The man who invented Rock and Roll. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage. https://t.co/D8NwRKcshi— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) May 9, 2020
Van Zandt was referring to his radio show, where Little Richard's music will presumably be playing throughout the weekend. Van Zandt has often gone by the stage name "Little Steven," and is best-known as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
Van Zandt's tweet also made reference to his wedding, where Little Richard served as the officiant. He married actress Maureen Santoro on Dec. 31, 1982 in New York City. Springsteen served as Van Zandt's best man while Richard presided over the ceremony, for which Van Zandt is still "honored."
Van Zandt was not the only musical authority who praised Little Richard in such strong terms on Saturday. Many other musicians, critics and fellow artists remarked on Little Richard's bold legacy, from his music itself to his larger-than-life persona both on and off the stage.
According to Rolling Stone, Richard's son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed the news of his passing on Saturday morning. He did not disclose Richard's cause of death. The singer was 87 years old.
Little Richard's first big hit was "Tutti Frutti," which came out in 1956. At the time, his music was referred to as rhythm and blues for lack of a better word, but in the years that followed he became one of the first and most promient examples of rock 'n' roll music as we now know it. As Van Zandt noted, he was an inspiration for artists like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, then later for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all that followed.