Little Richard, a major architect of the rock and roll idiom, passed away on May 9, aged 87. Known for bringing unprecedented sexuality to mainstream pop charts, the flamboyant rocker’s career began in gospel music and jazz-inflected R&B, and the influence of these styles remained central to his later rock and roll hits. “Tutti Frutti” was released in 1955 and driven by its famous opening cry, it became Little Richard’s first hit and the song has been described as the sound of the birth of rock and roll. Though it was famously outsold by Pat Boone’s unthreatening version of that song, released that same year, Little Richard’s original recording entering the pop charts is still recognized as a history-making moment in American pop culture.
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