Little Richard, one of the most influential figures in the foundation and evolution of rock and roll, has died at the age of 87. His son confirmed the news to Rolling Stone, but said that the cause of his passing was still unknown. With songs such as “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Rip It Up,” and “Long Tall Sally” emerging as hits in the late 1950s, Little Richard’s music quickly became synonymous with his flamboyant piano playing, sexually charged lyrics, and androgynous stage persona. He would go on to alternate between a career as a rock and gospel singer in the following decades, influencing a staggeringly high number of musicians in the process — including the Beatles, Prince, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John. In 1986, Little Richard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural year, and he was also awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 1993.
“I’m very grateful to know that my material is the type of material that entertainers today would like to use,” he once told American Bandstand. “It makes me feel good to know that I’ve been a part of something that is growing and won’t stop, and I got to live in the root that has been planted, and nobody can take it out because it’s down there.” Since news of his death became public, many celebrities have shared condolences on social media.