In a recent interview with Australia's "Everblack" podcast, SEVENDUST singer Lajon Witherspoon paid tribute to Little Richard, who died on May 9 at the age of 87.
Lajon said (hear audio below): "One of my very good friends, Jay, was actually a background singer and dancer for Little Richard for years and years and years. And I remember being in L.A., and Little Richard was staying in the top of the Hyatt hotel — he had the whole top floor or whatever. And Jay said, 'We're gonna call Richard, the King.' And I said, 'What?' And the next thing I knew, me and Little Richard were talking on the phone. [It] changed my life. And when he passed, I saw on Instagram… Jay, he let me know and everything. And I said, 'Do you remember when you let me talk to him?' And he said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'I was just passing the torch on.' And he said, 'Let me let you know something.' He said, 'I was with Little Richard and his son Danny in Nashville in February for his birthday,' when his birthday was, and he said Little Richard asked about me. And he said, 'He remembered you.' And I said, 'What?' For me, it meant so much to think that such an icon and an idol that changed the world — and is still changing the world, and will always change the world — that I had a chance to talk to him and for him to give him advice about my career and to keep going and to keep moving, that I was able to be lucky enough to be in that moment in life to have someone in my circle to be that close… I mean, how does that happen? I still can't believe it.
"I always say that true legends never die," Lajon added. "And his energy will always be around us. But I did talk to him, and it was great. You just know when you talk to a superstar, and the energy. It was something that I'll never forget my entire life… He was a changer of everything — with his lifestyle, the timing in the industry, in the world, that he was going through and the things that he had to deal with, being who he was. Everything was incredible. He surpassed it and didn't regress and let anyone regress him into anything that held him back from achieving the goals that he had to do."
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.