Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$40 Million
Date of Birth:
Dec 5, 1932 - May 9, 2020 (87 years old)
Place of Birth:
5 ft 9 in (1.77 m)
Singer, Keyboard Player, Pianist, Songwriter, Bandleader, Actor, Musician, Singer-songwriter
United States of America
💰 Compare Little Richard's Net Worth

What was Little Richard's Net Worth?

Little Richard was an American musician who had a net worth of $40 million at the time of his death. That net worth includes the estimated value of his catalog and publishing rights. Little Richard died on May 9, 2020 at the age of 87. He was an acclaimed pianist and songwriter, known for hits like "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" among many others. His songs featured his trademark shrieks and wild piano verses. He was often described as the "Architect of Rock and Roll."

Today Little Richard is credited with pioneering the early rock 'n' roll movement. During the '50s, he appeared on-screen in several movies, including 1956's "Don't Knock the Rock", 1957's "The Girl Can't Help It", and 1957's "Mister Rock 'n' Roll". In the latter half of the decade, Little Richard gave up on rock music in order to focus solely on gospel tunes, with his religious debut album, "God Is Real", recording in 1959. Five years later, he returned to rock 'n' roll.

Little Richard grew addicted to cocaine and later heroin and other drugs in the early '70s; a combination of frightening experiences, including his brother's death, convinced him to give up drugs and rock 'n' roll. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. That same year he played a fictionalized version of himself in the comedy film "Down and Out In Beverly Hills".

He earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990 and in 1993, Little Richard was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. In 2004 he performed at the Super Bowl halftime show (pictured below).

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Early Life

Richard Wayne Penniman was born on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He was the third of twelve total children born to Leva Mae and Charles Penniman. His father worked as a church deacon and brick mason who also sold bootlegged moonshine on the side in addition to owning a nightclub called the Tip In Inn. Little Richard grew up in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood of Macon and he earned the nickname "Little Richard" from his family due to his small and skinny frame. The family was very involved in a number of local church communities. Little Richard specifically enjoyed attending the Pentecostal church because of their charismatic worship style accompanied by live music. He grew up listening to gospel artists like Brother Joe May, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, and Marion Williams. He attended Macon's Hudson High School and joined the school's band, playing the alto saxophone. He worked part time at the Macon City Auditorium where he would sell drinks to people in the crowd during performances. He later attended Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama to study theology.


Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard Richard singing her songs before one of her performances at the Macon City Auditorium in the 1940s. She invited him to open the show for her and then paid him. The experience inspired Richard to become a performer. He left school after ninth grade to join Hudson's Medicine Show in 1949. He later moved to Houston and formed a band called Tempo Toppers that performed throughout the South.

In 1955, Richard sent a demo to Specialty Records. Later that year, he released the track "Tutti Frutti." The song became an instant hit, reaching the second spot on the "Billboard" magazine Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. He experienced a rapid climb to fame, with sixteen of his next releases topping the charts. His performances drew huge crowds and were notable in that they united white and black American audiences.

After a very successful few years, Richard decided to abandon rock and roll for born again Christianity. However, in 1962, he was persuaded to tour Europe, during which time the Beatles opened for him. Over the next decades, Richard continued performing, though at times would give up performing in favor of religion. Despite these lapses in his career, he was hugely instrumental in the American music scene. He is cited as one of the first crossover black artists, reaching audiences of all races. From 1957 when he released his first album until his final release in 2005, he released 25 total albums.

Over the course of his career, Little Richard has received many awards and accolades. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards for The Recording Academy and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2015, he received a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music for his key role in further spreading African American music and culture in the country, especially considering the racial divide in the U.S. at the time he was performing. The song "Tutti Frutti" was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010.

Personal Life and Death

In 1956, Richard became involved with Audrey Robinson who was 16 years old at the time. Richard had made a number of statements about his relationship with Robinson in his autobiography that Robinson has since denied. He claims that he would invite other men, like Buddy Holly, to have sexual encounters with her. He did propose to Robinson at some point in their relationship but Robinson refused. She later began working as a stripper under the name Lee Angel. They reconnected in the 1960s, though Robinson ended up leaving Richard after his drug problem worsened. Richard had begun drinking large amounts of alcohol and smoking marijuana, despite having been a teetotaler during the early years of his career. In the 1970s, he developed an addiction to cocaine.

In 1957, Richard met Ernestine Harvin at an evangelical rally. They dated and then married in July of 1959. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1964. During their marriage, the couple had adopted a one-year-old boy named Danny Jones from a church associate. Richard and his son remained close and Jones later began acting as Richard's bodyguard.

While Richard had married women, he later stated that he had been gay his whole life. He had numerous relationships an encounters with men throughout his life. However, he had a complicated relationship with homosexuality given his upbringing in the church. In October of 2017, he denounced homosexuality in an interview with the Christian Three Angels Broadcasting Network. During the interview, he also shared his personal testimony and returned to the church in the later years of his life

In May of 2020, Richard died at the age of 87 at his home in Tullahoma, Tennessee from a cause related to bone cancer. Following his death, he received tributes from many musicians like Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Lenny Kravitz, among many others.

Tennessee Mansion

In the 2000 Richard either bought or built a mansion in Lynchburg, Tennessee that would be his home for the rest of his life. His estate sold the mansion, which sits on 17 private acres, in November 2020 for $349,000. The home popped up for sale again a year later for $1.75 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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