Rock N’ Roll founding father Little Richard is reportedly gravely ill, according to Rollingout.com. Richard’s condition was reported by legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins, who tweeted: “A friend, a legend & some say the true King of Rock & Roll. Lil-Richard needs our love & understanding right now.” According to unsubstantiated reports, family has gathered by 83-year-old Richard’s bedside at an undisclosed hospital in or near his Macon, Georgia home — but so far, no one representing Little Richard has commented on his health.
The recent years have been rough on the rock pioneer, having most recently suffered a heart attack in 2014, a stroke, and undergone hip surgery that left him wheelchair-bound.
Little Richard rocketed to stardom in the mid-1950’s, when his black eyeliner, bouffant hairdo, and flamboyant performances were hard to ignore. With innovative songs like “Tutti Frutti,” “Lucille,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly,” Little Richard, whose real name is Richard Penniman, earned his place in music history, and by 1968 he had sold an astonishing 32 million records worldwide.
Little Richard told us that upon breaking on the national scene in the mid-’50s, he immediately raised a red flag for the raunchier elements on rock n’ roll: “Uh, when I came out, they had me in the same bag that rock n’ roll music. . . The radio stations wouldn’t play me. I would go to cities and they would have signs they didn’t want their kids to listen to me. They would have big signs — the churches and the groups would march with picket signs all out in front because I was considered as ‘smutty.’ They called it ‘smutty’ because I was saying ‘Tutti frutti, good booty,’ and then, ‘Good golly, Miss Molly, the house of blue light.’ ‘That’s prostitution,’ they said; but I didn’t mean that — it wasn’t meant that way.”
On May 8th, 2015 Little Richard — along with Eric Clapton and Tommy Brown — was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. The induction was held in conjunction with the 36th Annual Blues Music Awards.
Photo Courtesy of Specialty Records