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Known for hits like “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly,” the charismatic star is remembered by music lovers around the world.

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The death of Little Richard Saturday at age 87 stirred feelings of nostalgia for many familiar with the flamboyant singer’s works.

The singer, born Richard Penniman, spent more than half a century on the stage, from the time he broke out in the 1950s to 2013, when a heart attack prompted his retirement. 

Considered a founding father of rock, Little Richard’s hits such as “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” transcended boundaries. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was among those to pay tribute on Twitter, citing “his exuberance, his creativity, and his refusal to be anything other than himself.”

“Little Richard laid the foundation for generations of artists to follow,” she said. “We are so lucky to have had him.”

More: Little Richard, outsized founding father of rock music, dies at 87

More: Mick Jagger, Chance the Rapper, Michelle Obama react to Little Richard’s death

Rock historian Nik Cohn had this to say about Little Richard’s one-of-a-kind vocal skills: “He’d scream and scream and scream. He had a freak voice – tireless, hysterical, completely indestructible – and he never in his life sang at anything lower than an enraged bull-like roar.”

If you’d like to remember him at his peak – or you want to understand why his death is a big deal to rock fans, check out these five classic tracks.

‘Tutti Frutti’

Released: 1955

Lasting impact: The song that, for many, served as their introduction to Little Richard, helping put him on the map.

Sample lyrics: “I got a girl named Daisy // She almost drives me crazy // I got a girl named Daisy // She almost drives me crazy // She knows how to love me, yes indeed // Boy, you don’t know what you do to me.”

‘Long Tall Sally’

Released: 1956

Lasting impact: Ranked No. 55 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Covered by countless artists over the years — including Elvis Presley and the Beatles — all eager to put their own spin on a beloved classic.

Sample lyrics: “Well, I saw Uncle John with bald-head Sally // He saw Aunt Mary coming and he ducked back in the alley // Oh baby // Ye-e-e-es baby // Woo-o-o-oh baby // Having me some fun tonight // Yeah // Ow!”

‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’

Released: 1958

Lasting impact: Recorded in 1956, it wasn’t released until early 1958. This one also made it onto Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 songs, ranking 94th. Jerry Lee Lewis and Creedence Clearwater Revival are among the performers who’ve covered the track.

Sample lyrics: “From the early, early mornin’ till the early, early night // You can see miss Molly rockin’ at the house of blue light // Good golly, miss Molly, sure like to ball // When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.”

‘Keep A-Knockin’ ‘

Released: 1958

Lasting impact: Recorded, like many of his other hits, at J&M Studio in New Orleans. Fats Domino also recorded at J&M, which was one of the first integrated studios in what was, at the time, a still-segregated South.

Sample lyrics: “You said you love me and you can’t come in // You said you love me and you can’t come in // You said you love me and you can’t come in // Come back tomorrow night and try it again.”

‘Jenny, Jenny’

Released: 1957

Lasting impact: Re-recorded by Little Richard three different times. This hit helped Little Richard make waves in the United Kingdom. Here’s how Paul McCartney described his attempts to match Little Richard’s vocal prowess, as retold by Rolling Stone: “You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it.”

Sample lyrics: “Jenny, Jenny, Jenny // Won’t you come along with me // Jenny, Jenny, Jenny // Won’t you come along with me // You know that I love you // We could live so happily.”

Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges

Contributing: Rasha Ali, USA TODAY; Ken Barnes, Special to USA TODAY

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