HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Richard Wayne Penniman, known to many as rock ’n roll legend Little Richard, was laid to rest at Oakwood University on Wednesday, May 20.
On May 9, 2020 the world lost the renowned artist to cancer at the age of 87.
Little Richard was a pioneering performer who helped rhythm and blues becomes rock ‘n roll. He was the self-proclaimed “Architect of Rock ’n Roll,” but he wasn’t the only one who thought that.
“Richard Penniman was a special human being,” said David Person, the family spokesperson. “His musical talents, sense of style, and charisma made him one of the most enduring cultural icons the world has ever known.”
Family, friends, and band members came together to not only mourn Little Richard’s death, but the celebrate his life. They say he was an inspiration.
Kenny Ford who played the baritone saxophone in the band, said they would watch Little Richard’s moves and follow along.
“You can listen to some of the greatest artists in the world and they’ll tell you how they were inspired by Little Richard from afar,” said Jay Nelson, a featured dancer in the band. “Imagine what we lived. Imagine being right there with the son. We all got suntans, you know? We were hanging out with the son.”
Nelson said every time they were with Richard, it was history.
The singer attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, then known as Oakwood College. He was laid to rest at the very place he studied theology at the height of his career.
Some say he became a living testimony of how God can U-turn a man’s life.
“The family hopes that the public will see Richard as more than a rock icon and world-renowned entertainer,” said Person. “They hope people will see Richard as a human being.”
“He’s a spark that left this Earth, and it’ll be no other spark like him,” said Ford.
Little Richard’s legacy will continue to live on. As for his truest friends, family, and fans, they will never forget the man who transformed rock ’n roll.