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Little Richard, rock 'n' roll giant, dies aged 87

(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty)

Little Richard, one of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll, and therefore popular music as we know it, has passed away, aged 87. The legendary performer's death was confirmed to Rolling Stone by his son. The cause of death is currently unknown.

Born in Georgia in 1932, Little Richard - real name Richard Wayne Penniman - smashed to the top of global charts with his 1956 hit Tutti Frutti and its even more successful follow-up Long Tall Sally.

In truth, these breakthrough tracks, along with Lucille and Good Golly Miss Molly in 1957 and '58 were the biggest hits of Penniman's career. At the height of his fame, the flamboyant performer abruptly quit an Australian tour, declaring he wanted to devote his life to God. 

(Image credit: Tom Copi / Contributor)

Although he made a successful comeback in 1962, his initial early releases remained his most successful and influential; he was revered, alongside other rock 'n' roll titans like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, by artists of the stature of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elton John and The Beatles.

As news of his death broke, stars and fans paid tribute on social media.