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Rocker Little Richard has died

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 5/09/20, 12:58 pm

Little Richard, the self-proclaimed “architect of rock ’n’ roll,” died on Saturday at age 87. His family and friends did not disclose the cause of his death. Born in Macon, Ga., as Richard Penniman, he belonged to a wave of musicians like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino who introduced white America to the traditions of black music. They laid the foundation for performers such as Elvis Presley, who performed Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” the Beatles, who recorded “Long Tall Sally,” and Bruce Springsteen, who played the flamboyant rocker’s “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”

What was his life like? One of 12 children, Richard said he felt attracted to men from a young age. He also grew up in a Christian family and felt a strong pull to the church. Throughout his life, he wavered between embracing homosexual promiscuity and denouncing it. He studied theology at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., but was arrested for lewd behavior in public. In a 2017 interview with Three Angels Broadcasting, he lamented the culture’s rejection of God and acceptance of “unnatural affections,” saying, “I don’t care what you are. He loves you and He can save you. All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Lord, take me as I am. I’m a sinner.’ But we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Dig deeper: Read WORLD’s obituaries of Richard’s contemporaries Berry and Domino, who both died in 2017.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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    Posted: Sun, 05/10/2020 10:13 pm

    What I most recall was his anger at never winning  a Grammy. He voiced it one year as one of the co-host presenters. Everyone laughed but behind the humor you could see hurt. 

    He bragged that he was wearing makeup and outlandish attire well before either Boy George or Prince. Additionally, he said the audience at his early shows were "desegregated before desegregation became law"

    I think he was right on both counts.