Little Richard appearance Y&R
Credit: Image: Aaron Montgomery/JPI

Soap opera special guest was a founding father of rock

Rock and roll legend Little Richard, who made guest appearances on two soap operas, One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless, has passed away at age 87 on Saturday May 9. His son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed the sad news to Rolling Stone magazine, and has learned that the cause of death was bone cancer.

Richard Wayne Penniman was born in Macon, Georgia in 1932 and was one of 12 children. He grew up singing in churches as he had numerous uncles who were preachers, and moved away from home and in with a white family in Macon at just 13 years of age due to conflict with his father, Bud. Penniman married Ernestine Harvin in October 1957 and they adopted one-year-old Danny Jones, the child of a late church member, before divorcing in 1964.

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Penniman became known as Little Richard by the age of 15, and his music career launched after he won a local talent show and landed a record deal with RCA in 1951. Beginning in 1956 he recorded a string of hits such as Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Lucille, and Good Golly Miss Molly. His songs became part of the lore of the birth of rock and roll along with those of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. Though he never had a Top 10 song after the year 1958, his influence was huge in both his flamboyant style and his music. Little Richard’s hits were covered by the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, used in over two hundred television shows and movies, and are performed in clubs everywhere to this day.

Little Richard made guest-appearances on such television series as Sesame Street, Bustin’ Loose, Baywatch, and on soap operas One Life to Live, where he presided over and performed at the wedding of Bo (Robert Woods) and Nora Buchanan (Hillary B. Smith), in 1995, and Young and Restless, where he sang and played piano at Jeffrey Bardwell’s (Ted Shackelford) 1997 wedding to Gloria Fisher (Judith Chapman).
Little Richard, Ted Shackleford, Judith Chapman Y&R

Little Richard is survived by his son, Danny Jones Penniman. extends condolences to his loved ones. Please take a moment to browse the gallery below to remember other soap opera talents we’ve lost this year.

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