Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard dies at 87

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard dies at 87
Little Richard performed hits like "Tutti Frutti," "Lucille," and "Good Golly Miss Molly." (Photo by Jordi Vidal/Redferns) (Jordi Vidal/Redferns)

Rock 'n' roll singer Little Richard, whose flamboyant wardrobe and frenetic piano playing produced hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly" and “Rip It Up,” died Saturday. He was 87.

The musician’s son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the Little Richard’s death to Rolling Stone.

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He was washing dishes in 1956 at a Greyhound bus station in his native Macon, Georgia, but by the end of the year Richard Perriman burst onto the music with “Tutti Frutti,” followed by “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up.” He followed it up with “Lucille” in 1957 and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958.

Little Richard’s style was simple, with a driving piano beat, screams and sexually charged lyrics, Rolling Stone reported.

Little Richard’s songs were covered by several artists, including a version of “ “Long Tall Sally," by The Beatles. Paul McCartney’s singing style on the song -- and on the original composition, I’m Down -- paid tribute to Little Richard’s style.

Born Richard Wayne Penniman on Dec. 5, 1932, in Macon, he was one of 12 children. “I was born in the slums. My daddy sold whiskey, bootleg whiskey,” he told Rolling Stone in 1970.

Little Richard wrote his famous lyrics to “Tutti Frutti” -- “a wop bob alu bob a wop bam boom” -- while he was bored and washing dishes, Rolling Stone reported. He also wrote “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” while working that same job.

The singer gave up music after 1958 and began attending the Alabama Bible school, Oakwood College, the magazine reported. He was ordained as a minister and cut a secular album, “God Is Real,” in 1959.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Later in life, Little Richard performed sporadically on stage. An operation to replace a hip in 2009 forced him to perform sitting down, Rolling Stone reported.

“I’m sorry I can’t do it like it’s supposed to be done,” he told one audience in 2012