Mick Jagger, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and More Pay Tribute to Little Richard

The icon passed away at the age of 87

May 11, 2020

Celebrities from the worlds of music, TV and film - and even politics - paid tribute to Rock 'n' Roll's founding father Little Richard, who has died at the age of 87.

Mick Jagger: "I'm so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard. He was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now... when we were on tour with him, I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me."

Elton John: "Without a doubt - musically, vocally and visually - he was my biggest influence. Seeing him live in my teens was the most exciting event in my life at that point. Goosebumps, electricity and joy came from every pore... I was lucky enough to work with him... in 1993. He was shy and funny and I was SO nervous. The track we recorded 'The Power' is a favorite in my catalogue. We also played live at the Beverly Hilton and I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. He influenced so many and is irreplaceable. A true legend, icon and a force of nature."

Bob Dylan: "I just heard the news about Little Richard and I’m so grieved. He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was only a little boy. His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything I would do. I played some shows with him in Europe in the early nineties and got to hang out in his dressing room a lot. He was always generous, kind and humble. And still dynamite as a performer and a musician and you could still learn plenty from him. In his presence he was always the same Little Richard that I first heard and was awed by growing up and I always was the same little boy. Of course he’ll live forever. But it’s like a part of your life is gone."

Keith Richards: "So sad to hear that my old friend Little Richard has passed. There will never be another!!! He was the true spirit of Rock’n Roll!"

Little Steven Van Zandt: "RIP Little Richard. The man who invented Rock and Roll. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage."

KISS' Gene Simmons: "Sadly, Little Richard passed away today. A founding Father of Rock And Roll, his contributions simply can’t be overstated. I had the honor of meeting Richard in his later years and was awed by his presence. He told me, 'I am the architect of Rock And Roll.' Amen! ..Rest In Peace."

Jimmy Page: "RIP Little Richard, a very sad loss. My thoughts are with his loved ones. It’s Little Richard’s songs that pioneered rock’n’roll. I got to hear him and his band at the Newport Lounge in Miami and boy were they good."

Cyndi Lauper: "So sad Little Richard passed away. He married my husband and I. He was really one of the truly great rock and roll singers and one of the rock and roll pioneers. He will be missed."

Jerry Lee Lewis, in a statement: "It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow Rocker ‘Little Richard.’ He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent and his friendship! He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly. God Bless his family and fans. Rest In Peace, my friend. Love Eternally, Jerry Lee Lewis."

Iggy Pop: "MESSAGE FROM IGGY: Dear Little Richard, thank you, RIP."

Senator Chuck Schumer: "In the world of music, it doesn’t get much better than Little Richard. We have lost a musical giant. Thank you for the joy and passion that your music brought to us all. May you rest in power."

Spike Lee, who posted a 1991 commercial he directed with Little Richard and Michael Jordan: "Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll."

Carole King: "I first saw Little Richard in 1957 at Alan Freed's Labor Day revue at the Brooklyn Paramount... he began to sing and play the piano with an eruption of energy that continued unabated for decades... it was a remarkable experience for this Jewish teenager to hear him sing nonsense syllables with the full capability of an astonishing vocal range that complemented the blazing rhythm coming out of his fingers."

Jon Bon Jovi, posting a photo of them together in the '90s: "In 1990 when I wrote the 'Young Guns' record, I had the chance to ask some of my heroes to record with me... I reached out to the legend's legend Little Richard... he accepted. When he arrived in the studio, he made all of us feel like little kids. He played, he sang, he laughed and told us stories. He blessed us with his smile and with his talents. I’ll never forget him.... pray there’s a heaven and that Richard is at the piano."

Nirvana's Krist Novoselic: "In the late 1980s, I was walking down Hollywood Blvd, a black limo drove by slowly, Little Richard waved at us from the back window with a crazy look on his face. A giant in Rock and Roll music."

Writer/director/creator Ava DuVernay: "I served soul food brunch to Little Richard every Sunday for a year while waitressing at Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch in LA. I was a college student. He tipped me a crisp $100 bill each week on a $75 breakfast with friends. This was 30 years ago. Helped me so much. God rest his soul."

Oscar-winner Viola Davis: "The Originator. The innovator. The musician, performer who influenced generations of artists.... has left. You were AWESOME #LittleRichard!!! Your talent will reverberate forever. Well done sir. Rest well."

Bette Midler: "#LittleRichard was a genius, pure and simple. He paved the way for (code for he was ripped off by) so many artists. Watch his YouTube performances to see what I mean. I met him on 'Down and Out in Beverly Hills,' in which he was hilarious. What a legacy. God bless you, Richard."

Chuck D of Public Enemy called Little Richard "The Quasar of Rock and Roll" and "incredible," adding, "My ['Fight the Power'] lyric was a 1989 nod to him."

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