Artists like Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Steven Van Zandt, Gene Simmons and many more are mourning the loss of the high-pompadoured singer, songwriter and pianist, whose explosive performances set early rock n’ roll afire.
“He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll,” The Beach Boys’ Wilson tweeted Saturday (May 9). “He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever.”
Over his seven-decade-plus career, Richard recorded and performed classics like “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally,” and “Rip It Up.” He often referred to himself as “the architect of rock n’ roll.”
“I just heard the news about Little Richard and I’m so grieved,” Dylan wrote. “He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was only a little boy. His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything I would do.”
Rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis also paid his respects to Richard, calling the late icon “one of a kind.”
“It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow Rocker ‘Little Richard,’” Lewis said in a statement. “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.”
See more reactions below to Little Richard’s death from John Legend, Paul McCartney, Bettle Midler, Chance the Rapper and Iggy Pop.
From 'Tutti Frutti' to 'Long Tall Sally' to 'Good Golly, Miss Molly' to 'Lucille', Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager. I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it. He would say, 'I taught Paul everything he knows'. pic.twitter.com/96bOzphhs8
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) May 10, 2020
I just heard the news about Little Richard and I’m so grieved. He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was only a little boy. His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything I would do.
— Bob Dylan (@bobdylan) May 9, 2020
I played some shows with him in Europe in the early nineties and got to hang out in his dressing room a lot. He was always generous, kind and humble. And still dynamite as a performer and a musician and you could still learn plenty from him.
— Bob Dylan (@bobdylan) May 9, 2020
In his presence he was always the same Little Richard that I first heard and was awed by growing up and I always was the same little boy. Of course he’ll live forever. But it’s like a part of your life is gone.
— Bob Dylan (@bobdylan) 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
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
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
#LittleRichard was a genius, pure and simple. He paved the way for (code for he was ripped off by)so many artists. Watch his YouTube performances to see what I mean. I met him on "Down and Out in Beverly Hills", in which he was hilarious. What a legacy. God bless you, Richard. https://t.co/Mz9UPzwYth
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 9, 2020
R.I.P. Rock & Roll Legend Little Richard
— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) 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
RIP King Richard https://t.co/tjjyg37lNp
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 9, 2020
The times, they could not dictate who you were. Your courage, fearlessness, voice and soul carved out what we now call Rock And Roll. Thank you for the road you made…for so many of us to follow. Thank you Mr. Penniman. We love you.
📷: Jim Marshall pic.twitter.com/RTOiWXTOoX
— Stone Temple Pilots (@STPBand) May 9, 2020
Make Heaven rock Little Richard.💔🎶🎵🌈
— Diane Warren (@Diane_Warren) May 9, 2020
When you speak of the innovators of Rock & Roll, stop with all the “One of…” crap when speaking of this man. A TRUE innovator was he. Nothing (outside the church) sounded, looked or felt anything like him before him. RIP to the one and only Little Richard. pic.twitter.com/5X5vOvCVm2
— Christian McBride (@mcbridesworld) May 9, 2020
I met Little Richard when I was 13 or 14 at Aunt Kizzy’s in Marina Del Ray. The advice he gave me is invaluable. He was such a class act and I will never forget the time I sat at his table and he talked to me like I was his little bro. RIP Little Richard
— Tevin Campbell (@tevincampbelll) 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
— The Pointer Sisters (@PointerOfficial) May 9, 2020
I don’t know if this is canon, but I remember seeing something about how Little Richard played up the flamboyancy so that white crowds would see him as less of a “threat.” He’s a top tier legend, but u know he had to jump through hoops even as a massive talent cuz…’murica. #RIP
— Sage Francis (@SageFrancis) May 9, 2020
RIP Little Richard. 2020 just keeps 2020’ing.
— nathan followill (@doctorfollowill) May 9, 2020
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) May 9, 2020
The Originator. The innovator. The musician, performer who influenced generations of artists….has left. You were AWESOME #LittleRichard!!! Your talent will reverberate forever. Well done sir. Rest well❤ pic.twitter.com/PsFH4SOUZy
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 9, 2020
Statement from Keith Richards:
“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.”
Farewell to the definition of rock and roll, Little Richard 🖤 pic.twitter.com/bOiqisjS5O
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) 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 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
God bless Little Richard. I loved him. I met him. Amazing! R.I.P https://t.co/1RPg9NRuOS
— Boy George (the truth is in your breath) (@BoyGeorge) 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
MESSAGE FROM IGGY: „Dear Little Richard, thank you, RIP”
— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) May 9, 2020
Rest In Peace Little Richard. Architect of Rock n Roll. Originator. Innovator. Influencer.
He was also a part of one of the great nights of my life/career, 30th GRAMMY Awards in NYC 1988 -creating a legendary TV moment. Condolences to his family/ loved ones -we thank you 🙌🏾🎶👑 pic.twitter.com/txughrHpoK
— JODY WATLEY (@jodywatley) May 9, 2020
Statement from Pat Boone:
“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.”
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
— Demi Moore (@justdemi) May 9, 2020
LITTLE RICHARD Is A Cornerstone In The Very Foundation Of Rock & Roll. An Icon. A Songwriter And Performer With A Personality To Match. RIP Superstar. pic.twitter.com/Sdl6Yh59ex
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) 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
Little Richard was one of the original rock 'n' rollers– He was THE ORIGINAL GLAM ROCKER, and he took a lot of abuse for being in the first wave. He forged a path for all of us who followed. pic.twitter.com/LKTxaPa2S2
— Joan Jett (@joanjett) May 9, 2020
I had the opportunity to work with him on Hollywood Squares, and when I ran into him later for another charity gig, he said he thought this clip was funny. I just about started crying! RIP #LittleRichard pic.twitter.com/NH31ktaT9j
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 9, 2020
A night to remember little Richard. And the boys peace and love. ✌️🌟❤️🎶🎵🍒☮️ pic.twitter.com/VsRDLTVeeJ
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) May 9, 2020
I was once asked, “If u could meet one person, who would it be?” I always said Little Richard. Because, to me, he was rock & roll’s most joyous, rebellious innovator.
Thank u for planting that seed, Richard. The world is a much happier place thanks to ur music.#RIPLittleRichard pic.twitter.com/kiq2VOZs8O
— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) May 9, 2020
— Patti LaBelle (@MsPattiPatti) May 9, 2020
RIP Little Richard, you were truly one of a kind!!
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) May 9, 2020
R.I.P. King 👑 #LittleRichard Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom .. Hyatt on Sunset …The upcoming rapper and aspiring comedian (Arsenio Hall) met on the street outside “The Comedy Store” the rest is HISTORY 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/3CxjbJY11x
— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) May 9, 2020
A friend, a Rock & the Institution, Mr. Richard Wayne Penniman (Dec 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020), better known as Little Richard. Share the love with his family & friends all around the world. We will never forget u & ur music.✌️Bootsy baby!!!🤩 @RollingStone @SweetwaterSound pic.twitter.com/bX6Mrin2gd
— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) 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