HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - Southland celebrities were joining others today in paying tribute to rock 'n roll pioneer Little Richard after the legendary singer/musician's death at the age of 87.
His death was first reported by Rolling Stone and later confirmed by friends and family members in multiple media reports. No information was released about the cause of death or where it occurred.
Little Richard (his birth name was Richard Penniman) made a big splash on radio and television in the 1950s with hits such as “Tutti-Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”
His aggressive piano playing and screeching singing style are considered foundational to the birth of rock and roll, and his influence was seen in artists who sometimes eclipsed his own fame, including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
He also appeared in numerous TV and film roles over several decades beginning in the '50s, often performing while playing himself.
“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,” writer/director Ava DuVernay tweeted. “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.”
“Oh no! Damn - damn - rip RepSwalwell: Long live #LittleRichard!,” actor John Cusack tweeted.
Rocker Billy Idol tweeted: “RIP #LittleRichard the architect of rock n roll...”
“It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow Rocker `Little Richard,”' 84-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis tweeted. “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. Love Eternally.”
Director Spike Lee tweeted, “Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll,” and included a clip of a 1991 commercial he directed that featured Little Richard and Michael Jordan.
And Pat Boone -- whose milder cover versions of “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” became hits in 1956 -- had this to say:
“Richard and I are brothers, musically and spiritually. I had million- selling records of his early R&B hits which weren't known on pop radio, and he credited me with helping him cross over to the larger market -- but way more than that, we knew we were Christian brothers and we celebrated that. I look forward to seeing him again before too long.”
Little Richard was a member of the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated in 1990. It is located at 6840 Hollywood Blvd.
Photo: Getty Images