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Little Richard, rock’n’roll pioneer, dies aged 87

9 May 2020

Little Richard, one of the pioneers of the first wave of rock’n’roll, has died. He was 87.

Richard – whose real name was Richard Penniman – had been in poor health for several years, suffering hip problems, a stroke and a heart attack.

Starting with Tutti Frutti in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits – Long Tall Sally and Rip It Up that same year, Lucille in 1957, and Good Golly Miss Molly in 1958 – driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics

Richard’s influence was massive. The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including Long Tall Sally, and Paul McCartney’s singing on those tracks paid tribute to Little Richard’s shredded-throat style.

His songs became part of the rock and roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, The Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and The Scorpions.