Little Richard, the rock and roll trailblazer known for his electrifying stage presence and lively piano skills, has died. He was 87.
Pastor Bill Minson, a close friend of the rocker, told The Associated Press that Little Richard died Saturday morning. Minson said he also spoke to Little Richard's son and brother. The family is not releasing the cause of death, he said.
The performer had been in declining health for years. He suffered a heart attack in 2013 and six years earlier, while still touring, needed the assistance of a helper and a cane to reach the stage.
The rock pioneer put "wop bop a loo bop" onto a generation's lips and inspired musicians from The Beatles to Prince.
Little Richard's influence in popular music is almost incalculable, his primacy reflected in his inclusion among the very first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Only Chuck Berry could also credibly lay claim to being the first to transcend the colour barrier among fans of early rock 'n' roll. But while Berry's influence was largely contained to subsequent rock and blues performers, Little Richard also counted devotees who went on to make their mark in soul and modern R&B.
Kelvin Holly, Little Richard's longtime guitarist, paid tribute to him on Instagram.
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