Today we lost a legend. We lost an icon. Little Richard, a pioneer and architect of Rock and Roll, died at the age of 87.
There was nothing subtle about Little Richard. From his hair, to his clothes, to his sound. Little Richard would pound the piano so hard that he would sometimes break it.
Born Richard Wayne Penniman, Little Richard helped shape the look, feel, and sound of modern music. His sound…his voice…his energy influenced some of the greatest artist of our lifetimes. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and so many more were influenced by Little Richard. Rock and Roll, and music in general, would not sound the same if it were not for him.
James Brown, who got his start as a back up musician for Little Richard (along with Jimi Hendrix), once said that Little Richard put the funk in Rock and Roll. As a member of Richard’s band, James Brown used to impersonate Little Richard when Little Richard was double booked.
Little Richard was also part of the inaugural class inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Little Richard broke down barriers for musicians, black men, gay men, gay black men, gay black male musicians, and all of those who did not fit neatly into the mold. Up until later in his career, Little Richard never shied away from being his authentic self.
We are grateful for the life and legacy of a man who left his mark on music and the world in general.
There will never be another Little Richard. He was one of a kind. Rest in power, King!