Little Richard Dies: Rockers React
“I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said via statement, “he was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50’s.” The Stones famously toured alongside Richard in 1963, an experience which had a profound effect on Jagger. “When we were on tour with him I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me.”
Elton John also paid his respects in a series of tweets. “Without a doubt - musically, vocally and visually - he was my biggest influence,” the Rocketman said of Richard. “Seeing him live in my teens was the most exciting event in my life at that point. Goosebumps, electricity and joy came from every pore.” John went on to recall a handful of collaborations between the two legendary artists, later referring to his departed friend as “a true legend, icon and a force of nature.”
Many artists wrote about the influence the man born Richard Penniman had on their own work. "RIP Little Richard, a very sad loss," Jimmy Page said. "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."
Others recalled his influence on society. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea remembered him as "The king. The wildest, most outlandish, sexiest rocker to ever strut his stuff has left us. He laid the groundwork of all that was to come, rocked the world, cast the spell, had us in a trance. He scared the parents, inspired the rockers, and radiated an infinite source of light, straight from the divine source. R.I.P. Little Richard."
"I’m very sorry to hear about Little Richard," Brian Wilson added. "He was there at the beginning and showed us all how to rock and roll. He was a such a great talent and will be missed. Little Richard’s music will last forever."
Some brought in personal memories. Jerry Lee Lewis said in a statement, "It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow rocker ‘Little Richard.’ 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. Love eternally, Jerry Lee Lewis.”
Jon Bon Jovi remembered working with Little Richard on the former's 1990 solo LP Blaze of Glory. "I had the chance to ask some of my heroes to record with me," the Bon Jovi frontman recalled. "I reached out to the legends legend Little Richard......he accepted. When he arrived in the studio, he made all of us feel like little kids. He played, he sang, he laughed and told us stories. He blessed us with his smile and with his talents. I’ll never forget him....pray there’s a heaven and that Richard is at the piano."
Steven Van Zandt, whose wedding Little Richard officiated, wrote, "RIP Little Richard. The man who invented It. Elvis [Presley] popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard embodied the spirit of rock n' roll. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. We're lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage."
In Memoriam: 2020 Deaths