Little Richard

Little Richard

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Updated On September 27, 2021
Macon, Georgia, America
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Little Richard was an American musician, singer, and songwriter whose driving, flamboyant sound helped identify the early rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1950s. Little Richard made songs like “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” into big hits with his croons, wails, and screams, and inspired bands like the Beatles.

Early Life and Childhood

Little Richard Penniman was born on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, as the third of 12 children. Bud, his father made a living selling moonshine and didn’t do much to hide his dislike for his son’s early homosexual tendencies. Richard was ordered to leave the family home when he was 13 years old. His bond with his father was never restored. Richard’s father was murdered at a nearby bar when he was 19 years old. Richard used to sing in church in his childhood.

He went to Macon’s Hudson High School. He was not a smart student but he possessed great musical talents. Besides that, there is no further information about his other academic achievements.


On May 9, 2020, the great musician he died at the age of 87 due to bone cancer in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He was 87. His son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.

Professional Life

Little Richard

Caption: Little Richard early live performance (Source: Page Six)

After Little Richard was kicked out of the house he joined Dr. Hudson’s Medicine Show before performing at a local nightclub named Tick Tock Club. The club owner Ann Johnson took him after he told his family problems. In 1950, Richard started to perform for various groups like Sugarfoot Sam, Tidy Jolly Steppers, and Broad Follies. During this period he earned popularity as a drag performer. He was inspired by the music of R&B artists Roy Brown and Billy Wright. Zenas Sears helped him to sign a contract with Camden. His song Every Hour became successful in the Georgia area. However, he didn’t find more success and left Camden in 1952. He began as a vocalist in a group called Tempo Toppers in 1953.

The producer of Specialty Records Art Rupe was in search of a pianist singer for a group of musicians. Art selected Richard after listening to his tape. In 1955 he recorded a song Tutti Frutti which became a hit and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart. In 1956 his song Long Tally Sally reached No. 1 on the R&B chart. Following this success, he became a highly sought-after artist for package tours throughout the United States. He was popular among both whites and blacks and credited for uniting the races with music. He released a debut album in 1957 titled Here’s Little Richard. The album featured the hit song Long Tall Sally and reached No. 13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. It was followed in 1958 by him and 1959 by The Fabulous Little Richard.

Leaving Music and Comeback

Little Richard

Caption: Little Richard albums with Specialty Records (Source: Amazon)

He surprised his fans when he suddenly announced that he received a sign from God to leave the music industry. He entered Oakwood College to study theology and left Specialty Records in 1959. He formed the Little Richard Evangelistic Team and began recording gospel music. The group has released three religious albums. In the 1960s he decided to make a comeback to pop music. His album The Explosive Little produced by his friend Larry Williams failed to chart on Billboard in 1967. Moreover, he failed to make a comeback in rock and roll, and his records were not successful. However, he made a fantastic comeback as a live artist, performing at casinos and resorts. He became the main attraction at many shows, including the Atlantic City Pop Festival and the Toronto Pop Festival.

After his success as a live performer, he became a celebrity again. Moreover, he appeared on a number of television programs like the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the Dick Cavett Show. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol and decided to quit rock and roll music in the 1970s. During the 1980s and 1990s, he also appeared in several films in minor roles. He died on May 9, 2020, due to bone cancer in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Achievements and Net Worth

Little Richard

Caption: Little Richard’s live performance (Source: Rolling Stone)

In 1956, he received the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for Long Tall Sally. In 1993, Richard received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

Being a successful musician has rewarded him with a huge fortune. His estimated net worth was $40 million.

Relationship Status

Little Richard married Ernestine Campbell in 1959 but divorced in 1963. He adopted a son who was close to him. During his teenage, he was in relation with both sexes.

Talking about his rumors and his controversy, he was not a part of them. Moreover, Richard liked to keep a distance from the rumors and the controversy.

Body Measurement and Social media

Little Richard was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 70 Kg. Moreover, Richard had black eyes and black hair. Besides that, there is no information about Richard’s body measurements.

He was active on a social media platform Facebook. On his Facebook page, he has over 551K followers. Besides that, there is no official account of Richard on other social media platforms.

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