Little Richard, Rock Pioneer Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87 – He pioneered rock and roll’s gender-bending flamboyance, throat-shredding vocals, and piano-pounding rhythm.
In the years before his death, Little Richard, who was by then based in Nashville, still performed periodically. Onstage, though, the physicality of old was gone: Thanks to hip replacement surgery in 2009, he could only perform sitting down at his piano. But his rock & roll spirit never left him. “I’m sorry I can’t do it like it’s supposed to be done,” he told one audience in 2012. After the audience screamed back in encouragement, he said — with a very Little Richard squeal — “Oh, you gonna make me scream like a white girl!”