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Charles Connor, the influential drummer known for playing with Little Richard and pioneering the "choo-choo train" rhythm, died Saturday at 86.

He died peacefully in his sleep while under hospice care in Glendale, Calif., his daughter, Queenie Connor Sonnefeld, told the Associated Press.

"He was one of those drummers that was a bricklayer of creating that rock 'n' roll genre," she said. "He played behind so many legendary musicians in the 1950s. He was a loving grandfather and was very proud of his family and took a lot of pride in his contributions to rock 'n' roll."

Little Richard
Charles Connor on drums with Little Richard in 'Mister Rock and Roll'
| Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A native of New Orleans, Connor began drumming as a child, after his parents bought him a drum kit at age 5. He began working with Little Richard's band the Upsetters when he was just 18, playing on albums like 1957's Here's Little Richard and on various singles, including "Keep A-Knockin'" with its iconic choo-choo train drum style.

Connor also appeared with Little Richard and his band in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It, and over the course of his career he performed with artists including James Brown and Sam Cooke.

He wrote a motivational book, Don't Give Up Your Dreams: You Can Be a Winner Too!, in 2008 and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010. 

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