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Tributes flow in for rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard

The innovator, the originator, the architect of rock ‘n’ roll. Little Richard paved the way for generations of the world’s most beloved stars, boasting a radical onstage persona that toyed with the traditions of genre, gender and performance.

Sadly passing on Saturday at the age of 87, countless tributes have emerged for the rock and roll pioneer from across the globe. Highlighting the singer’s groundbreaking legacy, left not from numbers or chart stats, but from influence.

little richard
Photo: Rosemary Matthews/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Elton John, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and hundreds more pay tribute to rock and roll and cultural magnate Little Richard following his passing.

Rising to stardom during the birth of Rock and Roll in the US, Little Richard was never able to crack a number one spot on the charts or even reach the top 10 after 1958. However, the larger-than-life artist has been referenced by The Beatles, Jagger, Prince and Bowie as one of their main creative influences, with Rolling Stone rating his iconic track Tutti Frutti one of the top 50 greatest singles of all time.

“I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger wrote on Twitter. “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.”  This influence can be most notably found in Jagger’s stage presence, as seen in the famed white dress and kohl eye-makeup he donned at a 1969 Stones gig in Hyde Park.

The late singer has even been noted as the main influence behind Paul McCartney’s iconic vocal stylings. “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it. He would say, ‘I taught Paul everything he knows’,” the Beatles legend penned in a Twitter tribute.

However, Little Richard strived to represent a movement greater than himself. Kicked out of his childhood home at 13 by a Father who thought was gay and gaining notoriety amongst the American Civil Rights movement, his influence spanned far beyond the bounds of music.

“He was the first punk, he was the first everything,” legendary queer filmmaker John Waters recalled. “He was always a great figure of rebellion and sexual confusion.” Waters does also note his confusion toward the singer’s blatant homophobia later in his life. 

Check out some more tributes to the trailblazing artist below: