Little Richard, one of the greatest artists in the history of popular music died on Saturday. Words like “trailblazer” and “pioneer” somehow feel insufficient; Little Richard was rock and roll, embedded deep within the genre’s DNA. His reach extended far beyond hits like “Tutti Frutti”, and his innovations in vocal technique, fashion, sexual expression, and concert spectacle influenced generations of musicians. In the wake of his passing from cancer at the age of 87, thousands of artists released statements expressing all that the late titan meant to them.
“When we were on tour with him I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger remembered.
“He was there at the beginning and showed us how to rock and roll,” Brian Wilson added on Twitter. “He was such a great talent and he will be missed.”
“This man was literally THE BLUEPRINT of all the world took from,” proclaimed Questlove. “LITTLE RICHARD is THE TRUE KING. LONG LIVE THE KING.”
Jerry Lee Lewis said in a statement to Rolling Stone, “He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent and his friendship! He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly. God Bless his family and fans. Rest In Peace, my friend.”
Others who’ve honored Little Richard include Elton John, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Cyndi Lauper, Quincy Jones, Jack White’s Third Man Records, Tom Morello, Krist Novoselić, First Lady Michelle Obama, Spike Lee, and many more. Update: Bob Dylan has also issued a rare public statement in honor of Little Richard, which you can read here.
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) May 9, 2020
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Without a doubt – musically, vocally and visually – he was my biggest influence. Seeing him live in my teens was the most exciting event in my life at that point. Goosebumps, electricity and joy came from every pore. His records still sound fresh and the opening few seconds of “Tutti Frutti” are the most explosive in music history. I was lucky enough to work with him for my “Duets” album in 1993. He was shy and funny and I was SO nervous. The track we recorded “The Power” is a favourite in my catalogue. We also played live at the Beverly Hilton and I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. He influenced so many and is irreplaceable. A true legend, icon and a force of nature. #RIP Little Richard Love, Elton x #LittleRichard
So sad to hear that my old friend Little Richard has passed. There will never be another!!! He was the true spirit of Rock’n Roll! pic.twitter.com/yU1EJmjejU
— Keith Richards (@officialKeef) May 9, 2020
RIP Little Richard, a very sad loss. My thoughts are with his loved ones.
It’s Little Richard’s songs that pioneered rock’n’roll. I got to hear him and his band at the Newport Lounge in Miami and boy were they good. pic.twitter.com/JXgahhJAfk
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) May 9, 2020
I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard. He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever.
Love & Mercy, Brian pic.twitter.com/kcak6Rf4Re
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) May 9, 2020
God bless little Richard one of my all-time musical heroes. Peace and love to all his family. 😎✌️🌟❤️🎵🎶💕☮️ pic.twitter.com/H2lzKbX3tm
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) May 9, 2020
MESSAGE FROM IGGY: „Dear Little Richard, thank you, RIP”
— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) May 9, 2020
The loss of a true giant. My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. https://t.co/nzTDmQtLm7
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) May 9, 2020
RIP Little Richard. The man who invented Rock and Roll. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage. https://t.co/D8NwRKcshi
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) May 9, 2020
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. Sending all my love to his family and friends today.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 9, 2020
America has lost Little Richard, one of the inventors of rock and roll. He was a brilliant performer who broke down barriers and inspired millions of people around the world. Rest in peace. https://t.co/7kTTdIEttW
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 9, 2020
Little Richard was a great talent and a big part of my childhood so it was an honor when he played at my inauguration in 1993. His music influenced countless musicians and we still feel it today. I will miss him and his unforgettable charisma.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) May 9, 2020
A couple weeks ago I randomly decided to read up on the legendary Little Richard on wiki. I learned then about how he developed The Beatles and saved The Rolling Stones pic.twitter.com/lUEvYG1Mew
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) May 9, 2020
Farewell to the definition of rock and roll, Little Richard 🖤 pic.twitter.com/bOiqisjS5O
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) May 9, 2020
So sad Little Richard passed away. He married my husband and I. He was really one of the truely great rock and roll singers and one of the rock and roll pioneers. He will be missed💜🙏🏻🌷
— Cyndi Lauper (@cyndilauper) May 9, 2020
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) May 9, 2020
Absolutely heartbroken this morning at also hearing the news of the passing of my bro & friend, the great Little Richard. From our connection through our mutual mentor, Bumps Blackwell, to recording “Money Is” & “Do It To It” for the $ soundtrack, to…https://t.co/jeHNYYobEP pic.twitter.com/aEJEQVuNN9
— Quincy Jones (@QuincyDJones) May 9, 2020
The Innovator, originator, the architect…. a Rock and Roll king! A god has left the earth. Rest in Power Little Richard. pic.twitter.com/yVYEVxr9Vj
— Third Man Records (@thirdmanrecords) May 9, 2020
Little Richard was a performer so riveting, so extraordinary, that #JimiHendrix was his sideman and #JamesBrown his opening act. THANKYOU for everything. THANKYOU for rock n roll. https://t.co/9AiUcBaOhk
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) May 9, 2020
— Carole King (@Carole_King) May 9, 2020
Sadly, Little Richard passed away today. A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can’t be overstated. I had the honor of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence. He told me, “I am the architect of Rock And Roll.” Amen! ..Rest In Peace. https://t.co/ceQuNU6pkF
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) May 9, 2020
Just got word that Little Richard has passed away.
So many musical memories of this unique talent and we were honored to have him at the Volunteer Jam one year
He was one of a kind
Rest in peace Richard Penniman
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) May 9, 2020
One of the coolest riffs The best backbeat in the world Little Richard was an immense inspiration for me, love the man #riplittlerichard – Lucille (1957) [Long Version, High Quality Sound] https://t.co/VIAVy7boDF via @YouTube
— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) May 9, 2020
In the late 1980s, I was walking down Hollywood Blvd, a black limo drove by slowly, Little Richard waved at us from the back window with a crazy look on his face. A giant in Rock and Roll music.
— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) May 9, 2020
Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll. This Is The Commercial I Directed With Little Richard And Michael Jordan, 1991. pic.twitter.com/51bEV1eYKB
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLeeJoint) May 9, 2020
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) May 9, 2020
Dust To Digital is such a incredible site and curated dedication. Since we are in the era of social distancing please RT this as the ultimate tribute to The Quasar Of Rick and Roll!!! RT RT lets get a million RT on the Incredible Little Richard. My FTP lyric was a 1989 nod to him https://t.co/0ZL7V0z7kc
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) May 9, 2020
Rest in Peace, Little Richard
love, yoko pic.twitter.com/VKa6bdsNxo
— Yoko Ono (@yokoono) May 9, 2020
R.I.P. Rock & Roll Legend Little Richard
— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) May 9, 2020
Rock and roll is the opposite of straight and white.
Little Richard is directly responsible for most of my favorite things in life.
Rest In Peace and Eternal Power to The Only King. pic.twitter.com/AZDmIFfwrP
— matt sweeney (@theheavyjamz) May 9, 2020
Sing in Peace Little Richard. Bless you! No one had a greater hand in creating Rock n Roll, the Sacred Weapon that continues to heal our troubled world. Eternal Love and Thanks. pic.twitter.com/rWdSOIe7C5
— Nils Lofgren (@nilslofgren) May 9, 2020
RIP Little Richard – the architect of rock ‘n’ roll, an extremely cool guy and a formidable Wheel of Fortune contestant pic.twitter.com/OpDe9KPwXH
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) May 9, 2020
Blessings to Little Richard, a true original and pioneer of Rock 'n' Roll. His song "Baby Face" was the first single I bought. God grant him eternal peace.#LittleRichard #RockAndRoll pic.twitter.com/iuNUlkPoPz
— Yusuf / Cat Stevens (@YusufCatStevens) May 9, 2020
Little Richard changed everything for me. When he came over the airwaves the world was never the same.
— Robbie Robertson (@r0bbier0berts0n) May 10, 2020
I served soul food brunch to Little Richard every Sunday for a year while waitressing at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in LA. I was a college student. He tipped me a crisp $100 bill each week on a $75 breakfast with friends. This was 30 years ago. Helped me so much. God rest his soul. https://t.co/L0vo1tPdBv
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 9, 2020
“Wasn’t I wonderful?!” — Little Richard, after telling him I loved his show when I met him in the ‘90s. Yes. Yes, you were. Long live Little Richard! pic.twitter.com/ziiVNo4Phh
— Jeff Tweedy (@JeffTweedy) May 9, 2020
Growing up in the 50's, one of the main reasons we loved Little Richard was that our parents hated him SO MUCH. His music made them crazy.They screamed for us to turn him off. It made us play his music even more. It was the beginning of a real generation gap.
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) May 9, 2020
Gone but never forgotten. A rock giant.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) May 9, 2020
#RIP to a true music icon and pioneer — "The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock 'n' roll." #LittleRichard's passion for music, powerful presence and visionary genius were truly unmatched. Rest in peace, old friend. #RIPLegend pic.twitter.com/2dU6IWPvaT
— Donny Osmond (@donnyosmond) May 9, 2020