His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed his death to Rolling Stone, and Bill Minson, a close friend and pastor, told the Associated Press news agency that the star died on Saturday morning.
The self-proclaimed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll”, Little Richard was famous for hits including Good Golly Miss Molly, Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti in the 1950s, and was one of the first inductees into the Rock Hall Of Fame in 1986 – alongside Chuck Berry, James Brown, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
Little Richard built his ground-breaking sound and flamboyant stage presence with a frenzied blend of boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues and gospel – his songs and style influencing everyone from The Beatles and Elton John to Prince and David Bowie over the years.
He sold more than 30 million records worldwide.
Richard’s bass guitarist, Charles Glenn, told celebrity website TMZ the musician had been ill for two months and that he died at his Tennessee home, surrounded by his brother, sister and son.
Describing the star as like a father to him, Glenn said they spoke on 27 March and he had wanted to visit, but was unable to due to the coronavirus pandemic.