Days After Prince, Little Richard Is Clinging to Life

The greatest musical legends are passing away at an alarming pace, with Little Richard now rumored to be clinging to life.

Updated May 3 9 am PT: Little Richard has just denied rumors of his grave health, full update here.

Less than two weeks ago, Prince shocked millions of fans with his untimely death.  Now, Little Richard, a revered pioneer of rock n’ roll and a key figure the development of soul, funk, and even hip hop, is rumored to be in critical condition at age 83.  Richard, who has suffered through a hip surgery, heart attack and stroke, is now believed to be clinging to life at an unnamed hospital, with close friends and family members lending support.

Funk icon Bootsy Collins may have inadvertently triggered the widespread concern with a tweet that alluded to the critical condition.  “A friend, a legend & some say the true King of Rock & Roll. Lil-Richard needs our love & understanding right now….” Collins tweeted over the weekend.

Richard’s family has not issued a statement on the matter.  In 2013, Richard suffered a heart attack during a fundraiser for the Recording Academy, and opted to discontinue performing after that point.

Little Richard, whose real name is Richard Wayne Penniman, was born in 1932 in Macon, Georgia, where he has resided in his older years.  Richard, born into a deeply segregated and racist environment, first gained notoriety in the Deep South, particularly among black audiences.  His wild performance style and showmanship was complemented by his aggressive rock n’ roll music, which ultimately started crossing over towards white audiences.

That crossover sometimes happened directly, with early-moving whites recognizing black artists like Richard.  More often, however, the progression happened through white artists, with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other rock icons pointing to Richard as a huge influence.  Other groups, most notably Led Zeppelin, have been accused of directly copying black artists, with Willie Dixon successfully suing the group in the 80s over a direct rip-off of ‘You Need Love’.

But Richard’s legacy has been properly celebrated and recognized in its own right, with awards that include a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and countless other accolades.  As Bootsy mentioned, Little Richard may claim the title of the ‘True King of Rock n’ Roll.’


Image: Public Domain.

16 Responses

  1. Jim Pratt

    I have been looking (for years) for a video of a Little Richard concert I saw on TV decades ago where he climbs the speaker stacks on the stage WHILE SINGING. Awesome live performance. I did find a YouTube video of him on a speaker stack throwing items into the audience (Toronto, 1969), but that is not it. ANYONE???
    God bless Little Richard during his time in need.

    • Brenda

      Yes i remember that concert i was amazed and would like a copy

  2. John Bean

    direct lineage » @Jimi Hendrix » @Prince Rogers Nelson. Bless this voice. « My radio channel I would play only ‘Directly from My <3 2 U' and 'True Fine Mama'.

  3. Gary Montgomery

    I spoke to Richard today,
    he is just fine and sassy as ever! He is not in the hospital and wants everyone to know. “THAT THE BEAUTY IS STILL ON DUTY”!


      Thank u for letting us know. God bless u and him.

      • brenda Baucom

        He was blessed when he was born. God gave him the right genes to be the best

    • John

      Thier are many who remember,you little Richard. Richard was my dad’s name. He loved your music as a young man and spoke of the great,little Richard, as if he knew you. I was impressed to see you perform as I grew,and always shared his admiration for your,talent and vibrant stage presents. I’m so very glad to know that you are able to receive this massage and that I might share a kind thought with you as I reflect on the fact that you,have always been something we both enjoyed in our lives,,,though my dad has gone,I’m sure he would be pleased to know that I’ve shared these kind words with you,and hope that we both,might touch your heart as you have touched so many. Dad and i will always love you and your musical blessings. May God bless you,and allow your days to be joyful and sweet.You will always be a beautyfull person to me. We are still here,,,we still remember and love you,old friend. Sincerely,John Leoni

      • Brenda baucom

        Such a neautiful man, all over. Many of us baby boomers would love to see you preformng again.
        Money isn’t everything but i know you would make millions. Here is something more important than money. As you may know public TV has a hard time getting enough meney to continue. But I feel sure if you could do a benifit concert for PBS to use to raise funds to keep it going. I know the lord would bless you for that. So many childre learn to read on the morning shows like Sesamy Street and have cartoons that don’t have violence and teach good morals like Mr Rodgers neighborhood.

        • Brenda

          I meant to say mississippi PBS is the one i was speaking of. Thatcreep in the white house has defunded them.

  4. Othella Hunt

    In his own words, Little Richard is THE originator of Rock n Roll.

    • Anonymous

      Yes the boogie woogie is the baby of rock and roll. You still wonderful i still look amazing tomost people at the age of 72. I think the black blood that feedts us is the reason why. I lived in Englad back in the mid 50s. Man you were super popular there and in germany, too. I was an army brat boonmer. When we boomer go to a concert we want to here some great music trather than-rap

      • Brebda baucom

        He was one of the greatest. Rock and roll was being played everywhere by black entertainers iall over the south in the form of boogie woogie. I had a cousin who could play boogie all over the place. He never had a lesson in his life. Must have learned it at church on the church piano. Thats the only place he ever went growing up.

  5. Bob Butler

    Little Richard may pass away at sometime, but he’ll live forever in our hearts and minds!