Little Richard, the pioneering artist who set the template for rock and roll, has died aged 87.
The musician’s son, Danny Penniman, confirmed to Rolling Stone that Little Richard had died but said the cause of his death was unknown.
Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, in 1932, Little Richard was the second of 12 children.
His father, Bud, kicked him out as a teenager; he was taken in by a white family, who ran the club where he first performed.
He enjoyed a string of hits in the fifties, beginning with the rollicking “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, and quickly became known for his outrageous, flamboyant style of performing and bright outfits, which were later emulated by Prince.
“Tutti Frutti”, a song originally written about anal sex, features the famous chorus – “awopbobalubobawopbambom” – that Little Richard came up with while washing dishes at the Greyhound bus station in Macon (a job he took to support his family after his father was murdered).
The song was followed by “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up”, also in ‘56, followed a year later by “Lucille”, then “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958.
While the Fifties were widely considered as the most prolific and successful period of Little Richard’s career, his influence continued for decades after.