SCORPIONS singer Klaus Meine has paid tribute to Little Richard, who died on Saturday, May 9 at the age of 87.
Speaking to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" show, Meine said: "Little Richard had a huge impact on those kids growing up in post-war Germany, like Rudolf [Schenker, SCORPIONS guitarist] and myself. When we heard Little Richard — I know Rudolf was always crazy about Little Richard — when I heard this person in Germany on the radio, I didn't understand a word, but the message of rock and roll was right there, and it way before Elvis [Presley], way before THE BEATLES. And we were just kids. I think I was about seven [or] eight years old. It was a time when Schlager music was very popular in Germany. But when I heard a song like 'Lucille' and all those songs — 'Tutti Frutti' — for the first time, it was very inspiring. With my first band, even before the SCORPIONS, THE MUSHROOMS, we had 'Long Tall Sally' in our set. And when [SCORPIONS] went to Tokyo to record 'Tokyo Tapes', to record our very first live album in Japan, I thought it would be so cool to play that song, because it was such a great, great rocker, with such amazing grace and the way he sings it. It was a fun song and really something very special.
"Little Richard passed away [and] it's so sad to see him go, but the footprint he left on planet Earth [is] amazing, because he inspired THE BEATLES, he inspired so many artists that played his music," Klaus continued. "I think it's true when he described himself being the 'architect of rock and roll,' and that's so true — he's a very true rock and roll icon. And I'm proud that we covered one of his songs on 'Tokyo Tapes'. And it's a sad day for rock and roll, but Little Richard's music will live on forever."
Little Richard died in Nashville with his brother and son by his side. His former agent Dick Alen told CNN the cause of death is related to bone cancer. He called the musician "one of the legends, the originators" and said Little Richard had "been ill for a good while."
In the early '50s, Little Richard Penniman combined the spirit of church music, the bawdiness of blues and the swing of New Orleans jazz and turned it into something altogether new, rock 'n' roll. When the Macon, Georgia native signed to Art Rupe's Specialty Records, Little Richard began to develop his signature sound and flamboyant persona. His legendary debut album, "Here's Little Richard" (1957), was a bold introduction to the artist, featuring the iconic tracks "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally".
He sold more than 30 million records worldwide and had influenced everyone from THE BEATLES and Otis Redding to CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL and David Bowie.
Little Richard received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, one year after releasing his final studio album.
He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986.