Rock ’n’ roll trailblazer Little Richard dies aged 87

2007 file photo shows Little Richard, one of the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll. Richard has died aged 87.

NEW YORK — Little Richard, one of the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll, has died aged 87. Richard, whose real name was Richard Penniman, had been suffering with hip problems, a stroke and a heart attack in recent years.

His death was confirmed to Rolling Stone by his son, Danny Penniman, who said the cause of death was cancer, Guitar World wrote.

Richard pioneered the sound of rock ’n’ roll with a string of hits throughout the ’50s. Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits — “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 — driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and (often gibberish) lyrics.

His flamboyant performance style and showmanship — which was a clear influence on Prince, in particular — set the stage for every live act that followed.

“I really feel from the bottom of my heart that I am the inventor [of rock ’n’ roll],” Richard told Rolling Stone in 1990. “If there was somebody else, I didn’t know them, didn’t hear them, haven’t heard them. Not even to this day. So I say I’m the architect.”

Richard’s music was hugely influential on successive generations of musicians, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple and countless others, said the report in Guitar World.

Jimi Hendrix — who was fired from Richard’s backing band for stealing the limelight away from the singer — once said, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice,” while AC/DC’s Angus Young said, “The way he plays and the way he sings, it’s art and science, everything together.”

The Beatles’ Paul McCartney imitated Richard’s signature yelps — perhaps most notably in the “Wooooo!” from the hit “She Loves You.” Ex-bandmate John Lennon covered Richard’s “Rip It Up” and “Ready Teddy” on the 1975 “Rock and Roll” album.

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986, he was among the charter members with Elvis Presley, Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke and others. — Agencies