One of Rock n’ Roll’s pioneers, Little Richard has died at 87. The singer/pianist/songwriter came to fame in the 1950s when he won a local talent show and was able to record a song with RCA. However, his career initially stalled.
While working as a dishwasher, Little Richard sent a demo to Specialty Records in Chicago with the iconic song, “Tutti Frutti” on it. The song immediately caught the eye of the Speculatiy executives propelling Little Richard to the main stage as a teen sensation.
At the beginning of his career, Little Richard would appear in various musicals like Don’t Knock the Rock (1956) and The Girl Can’t Help It (1957). His career truly skyrocketed by the 1960s.
Inside Little Richard’s sexuality
There has been much confusion surrounding Little Richard’s sexual identity. As a performer, he embraced an androgynous look, including a carefully crafted hairstyle, and wearing a full face of makeup. One of the “Tutti Frutti” singer’s legs was shorter than the other one possibly due to complications at birth. As a result, he had an unusual way of walking which was called effeminate by his family.
Little Richard came from a strict religious background. Growing up in Macon, Georgia with his eleven siblings, he had several uncles who were preachers. W when his father, deacon at his church who was already embarrassed by his son’s birth defects accused him of being gay, he was forced to leave home at age 13.
Later in his life, Little Richard identified as gay. However, he would later denounce any affiliation with the LGBTQ community in interviews and in books.
The cause of Little Richard’s death was bone cancer
Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been some speculation regarding Little Richard’s cause of death. However, his long term agent, Dick Alen confirmed that his cause of death is bone cancer.
“Little Richard passed away this morning from bone cancer in Nashville. He was living with his brother in Nashville,” Alen told People. “He was battling for a good while, many years. I last spoke to him about two or three weeks ago. I knew he wasn’t well but he never really got into it, he just would say ‘I’m not well.’ He’s been suffering for many years with various aches and pains. He just wouldn’t talk about it much.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s catalog of hits has withstood the test of time.
This is how Little Richard got his name
Born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932, Little Richard’s name was supposed to be Richardo. However, the “O” was accidentally left off of the birth certificate, causing the error. got his name during his childhood and carried it through his adulthood. He was dubbed Little Richard by his family because he was very short and extremely skinny.
Little Richard’s career would inspire the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and David Bowie among many others. “Man, they think they just discovered that stuff, but it ain’t nothing but elephant tranquilizer and it’s been around for years,” Little Richard previously told People of his onstage antics.