If anyone can rival Chuck Berry's claim as the most important architect of rock n' roll, it's Little Richard. Both were electric personalities and performers --Berry with his guitar, Richard at the piano -- and sonic innovators who blended boogie-woogie and rhythm-and-blues in the '50s into an entirely new kind of music. Both were among the first ten inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they maintained a friendly rivalry over many years playing together over who, exactly, founded rock n' roll.
Today, Richard, 84, rarely speaks to the press, but he chatted with Billboard about his dear friend, speaking over the phone from Nashville while making a stop to get a sandwich at a drive-in. As told to Rebecca Milzoff.
Little Richard: I just feel sad about Chuck going. I didn’t even know he was sick. I lost a really great friend -- one of my best friends in music. I love Chuck. I’ve been with Chuck all my life, really.