Rock n' roll pioneer Little Richard died on Saturday, May 9th of bone cancer at the age of 87. Richard rocketed to stardom in the mid-1950's, when his black eyeliner, bouffant hairdo, and flamboyant performances were impossible to ignore. With genre-defining songs like “Tutti Frutti,” “Lucille,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly,” Little Richard — whose real name was Richard Penniman — earned his place in music history, and by 1968 he had sold an astonishing 32 million records worldwide.
He is survived by one son, Danny Jones, whom Richard and his only wife Ernestine Harvin, adopted in the early-1960's. The couple was divorced in 1964.
Paul McCartney, perhaps Little Richard's greatest acolyte, issued a statement, which reads: “From 'Tutti Frutti' to 'Long Tall Sally' to 'Good Golly, Miss Molly' to 'Lucille', Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager. I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it. He would say, 'I taught Paul everything he knows'. I had to admit he was right. In the early days of The Beatles we played with Richard in Hamburg and got to know him. He would let us hang out in his dressing room and we were witness to his pre-show rituals, with his head under a towel over a bowl of steaming hot water. . . he would suddenly lift his head up to the mirror and say, 'I can’t help it cos I’m so beautiful'. And he was. A great man with a lovely sense of humour and someone who will be missed by the rock and roll community and many more. I thank him for all he taught me and the kindness he showed by letting me be his friend. Goodbye Richard and a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop.”