Rock Music's Robert Blackwell, 66, Dies

Rock 'n' roll entrepreneur Robert (Bumps) Blackwell, who said all Little Richard owned when he discovered him "was a shirt, pants and a pair of shoes," has died of pneumonia complications, it was learned Monday.

Blackwell, 66, died Saturday night at Whittier Hospital Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said. She said the veteran producer of such acclaimed hits as Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" in 1957, had been admitted earlier that day and suffered cardiac arrest.

Cooke, Blackwell said in a 1982 interview with The Times, was a gospel singer when Blackwell converted him to rock.

Blackwell, who was blind from glaucoma, was Little Richard's manager for 30 years, said singer Gene Roland, a friend and client.

Blackwell also worked with Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner and Lou Rawls.

In addition to discovering and promoting Little Richard, Blackwell helped compose several of that star's greatest hits--"Long Tall Sally," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Ready Teddy" and "Rip It Up."

Some years ago Blackwell founded the Academy of the Performing Arts to teach young performers the music business.

But "it hasn't reached its potential because we're always broke," he said.

His survivors include two daughters, Sandra McClendon, and Kelly Blackwell; three grandchildren, a brother and a sister.

A funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. today at Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 Crenshaw Blvd., with interment to follow at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

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