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Richard Wayne Penniman

Birthplace: Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, United States
Death: May 09, 2020 (87)
Tullahoma, Coffee County, Tennessee, United States (Bone cancer )
Place of Burial: Huntsville, Madison County , Alabama
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Penniman, Sr. and Leva Mae Penniman
Ex-husband of Private
Father of Private
Brother of Private; Horace Dearcy Penniman; Charles Penniman, Jr.; Private and Private

Occupation: Actor, Singer, Songwriter and Pianist, Considered by many and most critics to be the true “King of Rock and Roll” recipient of the highest praise and accolades as performer in the Blues, R&B, Gospel, Soul and Funk genres as well.
Managed by: Patricia Ann Clark
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Little Richard

Little Richard gifted with the moniker the “Innovator and Architect of Rock and Roll” equally deserves the title as the “Factual”, “King of Rock and Roll”. He was one of the most influential figures in popular music and culture for more than six decades, Little Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s. His dynamic music and charismatic showmanship was the foundation for rock and roll. His music played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. Little Richard influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip-hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come, and his performances and headline-making thrust his career right into the mix of American popular music.

Little Richard has been honored by many institutions. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" (1955) was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated that his "unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music." In 2015, the National Museum of African American History and Culture honored Little Richard for his pivotal role in the formation of popular music genres and in helping to shatter the color line on the music charts, changing American culture significantly.

Little Richard was born in Macon, Georgia on December 5, 1932, the third eldest of the 12 children of Leva Mae (née Stewart) and Charles "Bud" Penniman. His father was a church deacon who sold bootlegged moonshine on the side and owned a nightclub, the Tip In Inn.[1][2] His mother was a member of Macon's New Hope Baptist Church.[3] Initially, Little Richard's first name was supposed to have been "Ricardo" but an error resulted in "Richard" instead.[1][4] The Penniman children were raised in a neighborhood of Macon called Pleasant Hill.[3] In childhood, he was nicknamed "Lil' Richard" by his family, because of his small and skinny frame. A mischievous child who played pranks on neighbors, Little Richard began singing in church at a young age.[5][6] Possibly as a result of complications at birth, Little Richard had a slight deformity that left one of his legs shorter than the other. This produced an unusual gait; he was mocked for its allegedly effeminate appearance.[7]

Little Richard's family was highly religious, joining various A.M.E., Baptist and Pentecostal churches, with some family members becoming ministers. Little Richard enjoyed the Pentecostal churches the most, because of their charismatic worship and live music.[8] He later recalled that people in his neighborhood during segregation sang gospel songs throughout the day to keep a positive outlook, because "there was so much poverty, so much prejudice in those days".[9] He had observed that people sang "to feel their connection with God" and to wash their trials and burdens away.[10] Gifted with a loud singing voice, Little Richard recalled that he was "always changing the key upwards" and that they once stopped him from singing in church for "screaming and hollering" so loud, earning him the nickname "War Hawk"

Little Richard's initial musical influences were gospel performers such as Brother Joe May, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams. May, who as a singing evangelist was known as "the Thunderbolt of the Middle West" because of his phenomenal range and vocal power, inspired the boy to become a preacher. Little Richard attended Macon's Hudson High School, where he was a below-average student. His musical talent, however, was recognized there when he learned to play the alto saxophone. His mother recalled how Richard was "always musical" and that when he was young, he would always "beat on the steps of the house, and on tin cans and pots and pans, or whatever", while singing. She also recalled that Richard was so quick at learning to play the saxophone that he was allowed to play with the school's marching band immediately. While in high school, Little Richard obtained a part-time job at Macon City Auditorium for local secular and gospel concert promoter Clint Brantley. Little Richard sold Coca-Cola to crowds during concerts of star performers of the day, such as Cab Calloway, Lucky Millinder and his favorite singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Little Richard received the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for "Long Tall Sally" in 1956. In 1984, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, being a member of the initial class of inductees chosen for that honor. In 1990, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994. In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award In 1997, he was given the American Music Award of Merit. In 2002, along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, Little Richard was honored as one of the first group of BMI icons at the 50th Annual BMI Pop Awards. That same year, he was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.] A year later, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.] In 2006, he was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame.[213] Four years afterwards, he received a plaque on the theater's Walk of Fame. In 2008, he received a star at Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame.[215] In 2009, he was inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.[216] The UK issue of GQ named him its Man of the Year in its Legend category in 2010.


  • “ Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87”. link retrieved 9 May 2020. “ Little Richard, a founding father of rock & roll whose fervent shrieks, flamboyant garb, and joyful, gender-bending persona embodied the spirit and sound of that new art form, died Saturday. He was 87. The musician’s son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed the pioneer’s death to Rolling Stone. The cause of death was bone cancer, the musician’s lawyer Bill Sobel told Rolling Stone.”

Richard Wayne “Little Richard” Penniman BIRTH 5 Dec 1932 Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, USA DEATH 9 May 2020 (aged 87) Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA BURIAL Unknown MEMORIAL ID 209903031 · View Source

MEMORIAL PHOTOS 1 FLOWERS 157 Singer. Born Richard Wayne Penniman, the third of twelve children. His first name was supposed to have been Ricardo, but an error resulted in Richard instead. His initial musical influence was gospel. He attended Hudson High School and joined teaching band. In 1947 he was overheard sing at Macon City Auditorium and was asked to open the show that day, which he did. Thanks to Sister Rosetta Tharpe this is what started him on his road to a very successful career. Richard got his nickname from Buster Brown when he joined his orchestra in 1950. His first of many recording contracts was with RCA Victor. With no successful recordings at RCA his next label was Specialty where he recorded his hit "Tutti Frutti." Penniman's first album, Here's Little Richard, was released by Specialty in May 1957. During the middle of the tour in 1957 he shocked the public by announcing he was following a life in the ministry because of things that had happened in his life. Good Golly, Miss Molly was also recorded while he was with Specialty. He did several foreign tours during his career and made several recordings for animated films. He appeared on TV, film, and tracks with other artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Elton John and Solomon Burke. In 1992 he released his final album, Little Richard Meets Masayoshi Takanaka. He recorded 26 albums and appeared in 26 films, animated films and television shows. He recorded on 12 different labels.

Bio by: DAS

Family Members Parents Photo Charles Penniman 1910–1952

Photo Leva Mae Stewart Penniman 1912–1984

Siblings Photo Charles Penniman 1930–1996

Horace Dearcy Penniman 1939–1976

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Little Richard's Timeline

December 5, 1932
Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, United States
May 9, 2020
Age 87
Tullahoma, Coffee County, Tennessee, United States
Oakwood Memorial Gardens, Huntsville, Madison County , Alabama