‘Little Richard’ remembered by cousin, Tubman director
MACON, Georgia (WMGT/41NBC) – Rock and Roll legend Little Richard died in his Tennessee home Saturday after a long battle with bone cancer.
Little Richard was born in Macon and was known for breaking down racial barriers to create rock and roll music that influenced many generations.
Born into a family of 12, Little Richard learned gospel music at a young age. As a teenager, he left home to perform rhythm and blues in medicine shows and nightclubs. His musical influence growing up led him to become a dynamic performer as an adult. His first record was produced in the early 1950s.
His cousin, Stanley Stewart, says Richard’s life and legacy serve as symbols of hope for others.
“When Richard started here in Macon, the racial climate was really terrible,” Stewart said. “To think that he had to overcome what he had to overcome, just to do what he did is a testament to the American dream.”
Stewart described Richard as a man of God who loved to make music. He says Richard was a legend from the first note he sang.
“It was as if the heavens opened up and said, ‘Let there be rock and roll,’ and ever since then that music genre has gone on and on,” Stewart said. “So he was definitely the originator of rock and roll and he will definitely be missed.”
Harold Young, the Interim Executive Director at the Tubman Museum, says Little Richard’s legacy will be remembered by everyone, especially the black community in middle Georgia.
“He made a way for other people,” Young said. “Now we don’t have to go through the back door. Now we own doors.”
The family announced in December it would host the Richard Rocks International Music Festival later this year to celebrate the rock legend’s 87th birthday.
Stewart says the festival will still happen and honor his cousin’s life.