Brow Beat

The Music World Pays Tribute to the Late Little Richard

Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Chuck D, and more remember “the spirit of rock ’n’ roll.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 03: Little Richard performs during the annual PBS "A Capitol Fourth" concert at the US Capitol on July 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Little Richard performs at the U.S. Capitol in 2011. Kris Connor/Getty Images

Without Little Richard, who died today at the age of 87, rock and roll might not exist—and at the very least, it would have looked very different. (The cause, his son told Rolling Stone, was cancer.) The man who taught Paul McCartney to “woooo!” was a pioneer and an innovator by any standard you could care to name. In terms of music, performance, sexuality, he was so far ahead of his contemporaries that it took years, if not decades, for them to catch up. As news of Richard Penniman’s death spread Saturday morning, musicians and artists spanning generations took to social pay to pay their respects, and ensure his legacy got its due.