Little Richard‘s lawyer says reports of the rock and roll pioneer’s death are greatly exaggerated. After a rumor began making the rounds over the weekend that the 83-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was in ill health, longtime attorney William Sobel told Rolling Stone on Tuesday that the reports are false.
“He said, ‘You know, I want you to talk to [the press] because I’m really annoyed,'” Richard reportedly told Sobel on Tuesday in reaction to a Facebook post (since deleted) from funk icon Bootsy Collins on April 28 that read: “A friend, a legend & some say the true King of Rock & Roll. Little Richard needs our love & understanding right now… He is not in the best of health so I ask all the Funkateers to lift him up.”
Though he’s been mostly out of the public eye for the past few years, Richard denied that he’s gravely ill. “‘Not only is my family not gathering around me because I’m ill, but I’m still singing,” he told Sobel. “I don’t perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I’m healthy.'” Billboard has reached out to Collins and Sobel for comment.
Sobel confirmed to RS that Richard had hip surgery and that he’s as mobile as you might expect any 83-year-old to be, perhaps more so. “I don’t know how many 83-year-olds still get up and rock it out every week, but in light of the rumors, I wanted to tell you that he’s vivacious and conversant about a ton of different things and he’s still very active in a daily routine.” Richard suffered a heart attack in September 2013 and credited Jesus with saving his life.
Sobel, who said he used to represent Prince, noted that Richard recently chatted with him about the late pop icon, calling him a “creative genius.”