Richard Wayne Penniman (born December 5, 1932), known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, pianist and recording artist, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame web site entry on Richard states that:
"More than any other performer - save, perhaps, Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly" defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll."
Richard began his recording career in 1951 by imitating the gospel-influenced style of late-40s jump blues artist Billy Wright, but did not achieve commercial success until 1955, when, under the guidance of Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, he began recording in a style he had been performing onstage for years, featuring varied rhythm, a heavy backbeat, funky saxophone grooves, over-the-top Gospel-style singing, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections, accompanied by a combination of boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues music. This new music, which included an original injection of funk into the rock and roll beat, inspired James Brown, Elvis Presley, and generations of other rhythm & blues, rock and soul music artists. He was subsequently among the seven initial inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and was one of only four of these honorees (along with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Fats Domino) to also receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award.