Rock & Roll pioneer Little Richard has died at the age of 87 of cancer. Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman on Dec. 5, 1932, in Macon, Ga. One of 12 children, Richard came from a very religious family. He began singing and playing the piano in the Pentecostal church. In 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe saw him performing her songs and allowed him to open for her. From there, he became a musical pioneer in his own right.

Little Richard would go on to become one of the architects of Rock & Roll Music. His hits included “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” and “Long Tall Sally.” His flamboyant style and thrilling stage persona influenced several artist including The Beatles and Elton John. Little Richard broke barriers around sexual stereotypes in rock & roll.

Although a pioneer of music, Little Richard’s recognition would come later in his life. Little Richard was one of the ten original inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His other accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an NAACP Hall of Fame Award.

We celebrate the life of this musical icon.