Rock ‘n’ Roll legend, Little Richard died Saturday at the age of 87, his former agent, Dick Alen confirmed.
Alen said Little Richard died in Nashville with his brother and son by his side, and the cause of death is related to bone cancer.
He called the star “one of the legends, the originators” and said Little Richard had “been ill for a good while.”
Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, Little Richard rose to fame in the 1950s with hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up.” He was known for his high-energy piano performances, which included flailing and screaming.
His androgynous, over-the-top persona, as well as makeup and flamboyant clothing set him apart from others of the era and were a source of inspiration for legends like Prince and Elton John, while his pioneering rock ‘n’ roll heavily influenced Elvis Presley.
Little Richard also helped launch the careers of The Beatles — who got their start opening for him on his European tour in 1962, covering his songs on tour and on the radio — and the Rolling Stones, who opened for him in 1963.
“Little Richard drove the whole house into a complete frenzy,” Mick Jagger said. “There is no single phrase to describe his hold on the audience.”
Little Richard was one of 12 children, and said he had started singing because he wanted to stand out from his siblings.
“I was the biggest head of all, and I still have the biggest head,” he told the BBC in 2008.
“I did what I did, because I wanted attention. When I started banging on the piano and screaming and singing, I got attention.”
His music was embraced by both black and white fans at a time when parts of the US were still segregated, and concerts had a rope up the centre of the auditorium to divide people by colour.
Following the peak of his rock ‘n’ roll career, Little Richard became an ordained minister and released a gospel album called “God Is Real.”
Little Richard sold more than 30 million records worldwide and in 1986 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.