Macon native Little Richard dies at 87

Little Richard, the flamboyant rock star from Macon, died Saturday, his son confirmed to “Rolling Stone.” He was 87.

Richard Wayne Penniman was born on Dec. 5, 1932, in Macon. He was one of 12 children and grew up around uncles who were preachers. “I was born in the slums. My daddy sold whiskey, bootleg whiskey,” he told “Rolling Stone” in 1970

» Photos: Little Richard through the years

» Read and sign the online guestbook for Little Richard

In 1947, singer and musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard then-14-year-old “Lil’ Richard” Penniman singing her gospel songs before she took the stage at Macon City Auditorium. She invited him to open her show — much to the dismay of the local concert promoter — and was so impressed that she paid him for his performance.

The experience persuaded the young artist to pursue a music career professionally.

After performing at the Tick Tock Club in Macon and winning a local talent show, Penniman landed his first record deal, with RCA, in 1951, “Rolling Stone” reported. 

» A deeper look at the musical career of Little Richard Penniman. He taught pop music to scream

» Little Richard’s songs - remembering his biggest hits

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