Paul McCartney: I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style

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  • Paul McCartney
    English singer-songwriter, bassist of The Beatles
  • Little Richard
    Little Richard
    American pianist, singer and songwriter (1932-2020)

Sir Paul McCartney said he owes “a lot” to rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard as he paid tribute to the late singer.

It was announced on Saturday that Little Richard, who was renowned for hits such as Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally, had died from bone cancer at the age of 87.

The former Beatles star added that the US singer, real name Richard Wayne Penniman, used to say “I taught Paul everything he knows”, adding that he “had to admit he was right”.

He said: “Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager. I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it.”

Sir Paul said The Beatles used to play alongside Little Richard in Hamburg, Germany, and “got to know him”.

He added: “He would let us hang out in his dressing room and we were witness to his pre-show rituals, with his head under a towel over a bowl of steaming hot water.

“He would suddenly lift his head up to the mirror and say ‘I can’t help it because I’m so beautiful’.

“And he was. A great man with a lovely sense of humour and someone who will be missed by the rock and roll community and many more.”

NHS tribute book
Sir Paul McCartney said Little Richard was a big influence on him (Ian West/PA)

He ended his message saying: “I thank him for all he taught me and the kindness he showed by letting me be his friend. Goodbye Richard and a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop.”

Speaking in 2002, Little Richard said Sir Paul would “watch me every night when I was up on stage”.

He added: “Paul idolised me and admired my energy.

“The way you see Mick Jagger and Tina Turner walk all over the stage is what I used to do. That’s where they all got it from.”

Sir Paul’s tribute followed messages from high-profile musicians including Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Jimmy Page.

Little Richard sold more than 30 million records worldwide and once dubbed himself the “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” while receiving a standing ovation at the 1988 Grammy Awards.

“I am the originator!” he added.

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