Elton John, Mick Jagger, Viola Davis, more celebrities react to Little Richard's death
The legendary musician Little Richard died Saturday at age 87, prompting a wave of tributes across the entertainment industry. One of the pioneers of rock and roll, Richard had a profound influence on such popular artists as The Beatles, Prince, and David Bowie with his flamboyant performing style, gender-bending image, and energetic piano-playing and vocals.
Little Richard's fellow rock and roll pioneer, Jerry Lee Lewis, released a statement, writing, “It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend and fellow Rocker ‘Little Richard.’ He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent and his friendship! He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly. God Bless his family and fans. Rest In Peace, my friend."
"I'm so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard, he was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50's," Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. "When we were on tour with him I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me."
Elton John, who has repeatedly spoken of the major impact Little Richard had on him, tweeted, "Without a doubt — musically, vocally and visually — he was my biggest influence. Seeing him live in my teens was the most exciting event in my life at that point. Goosebumps, electricity and joy came from every pore."
"I was lucky enough to work with him for my “Duets” album in 1993. He was shy and funny and I was SO nervous," John added in an additional tweet. "We also played live at the Beverly Hilton and I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven."
First Lady Michelle Obama wrote, "With his exuberance, his creativity, and his refusal to be anything other than himself, Little Richard laid the foundation for generations of artists to follow. We are so lucky to have had him. Sending all my love to his family and friends today."
Other tributes came from such legendary rock artists as Ringo Starr, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, as well as filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee (who shared a commercial he directed featuring Richard and Michael Jordan), and actresses Bette Midler and Viola Davis. You can see their reactions and more below.