Legendary Little Richard who was famous for his enthralling stage presence and energetic piano skills, the rock and roll trailblazer is no more. The singer’s rep Dick Alen,40, the agent confirmed to PEOPLE the musician’s death.
“Little Richard passed away this morning from bone cancer in Nashville. He was living with his brother in Nashville,” Reports People. “He was battling for a good while, many years. I last spoke to him about two or three weeks ago. I knew he wasn’t well but he never really got into it, he just would say ‘I’m not well.’ He’s been suffering for many years with various aches and pains. He just wouldn’t talk about it much.”
A longtime member of the musician’s band, Kelvin Holly posted a heartfelt message on social media. “Rest in peace Richard. This one really stings. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of my bandmates and fans all over the world. Richard truly was the king!”
The singer Born Richard Wayne Penniman rose to fame in the 1950s and soon became a beloved figure in the rock and roll scene for his energized behind-the-piano performances.
His raspy voice, trademark six-inch coif, mascara mustache, and eccentric conduct won him the reputation of one of the most influential musicians in history, with massive hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”
His act was well ahead of his time on stage: he ripped off his clothes, sprung onto the piano. A ninth-grade dropout with dreams of being as famous as the singing evangelist Brother Joe May, known as “the Midwest Thunderbolt,” Richard left the town with a medicine show on the road. Eventually, he peddled his talent in jobs as a dishwasher and as a janitor at a bus station.
Richard continued to perform until 2016, collaborating with artists including Jon Bon Jovi and Elton John, despite all the struggles, and headlining shows across the country.
Richard’s friend Bootsy Collins wrote on Facebook on April 28, 2016, in a post, seeing as-deleted, that the singer was “not in the best of health” and needed “all the Funkateers to lift him up,” according to Rolling Stone.
At the time, Richard’s lawyer William Sobel refuted the claims claiming that the singer was frustrated with the rumors.
“Not only is my family not gathering around me because I’m ill, but I’m still singing. I don’t perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I’m healthy,” Richard told Sobel, as per Rolling Stone magazine.
Richard since then stayed away from the spotlight, residing in downtown Nashville, until his last days.