Remembering Little Richard: The Architect of Rock and Roll

Singer, songwriter, and supreme entertainer Little Richard has sadly passed away at the age of 87. His son Danny Penniman announced his death on Saturday, May 9th. Richard's agent, Dick Alen, confirmed Richard's death was the result of bone cancer.

Tributes flew in from all corners of the entertainment world with Mick Jagger, Chance the Rapper, and Carole King among those mourning his loss. Michelle Obama was another to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind musician, saying "With his exuberance, his creativity, and his refusal to be anything other than himself, Little Richard laid the foundation for generations of artists to follow. We are so lucky to have had him."

It's hard to overstate the importance of Little Richard in the history of music—and in particular, rock and roll. With the release of his breakthrough single "Tutti Frutti" in 1955, it became quickly apparent the world was witnessing the rise of a unique talent, and one whose memory will undoubtedly live on.

10 Fun Facts About Little Richard

Here are 10 facts about Little Richard you may not have already known:

  1. Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman, but was nicknamed "Lil' Richard" by his family during his childhood because of his small and skinny frame.

  2. He was one of 12 children and started singing because he wanted to stand out from his siblings.

  3. His work as a musician earned him several nicknames, including "The Innovator," "The Originator," and "The Architect of Rock and Roll."

  4. Richard was one of the first black artists to cross racial lines, drawing fans of all races together.

  5. He was part of the first group of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 alongside Elvis Presley, James Brown, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

  6. "Tutti Frutti" was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated his "unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music."

  7. Although he never won a competitive Grammy Award, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. His album Here's Little Richard and three of his songs ("Tutti Frutti," "Lucille" and "Long Tall Sally") are also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

  8. He was inspired to play the piano after he heard Ike Turner's piano intro on "Rocket 88."

  9. The Beatles served as an opening act for Little Richard on several dates for a European tour in the 60s.

  10. He performed at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993.

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