Little Richard claims an aspirin saved his life.

The rock 'n' roll legend - best loved for his hit song 'Tutti Frutti' - has revealed he narrowly escaped death by popping the painkiller during a sudden heart attack last week in Nashville.

Speaking to R&B star Cee Lo Green in a public music debate held at Atlanta's W Hotel, Richard said: ''The other night, I didn't know I was having a heart attack. I was coughing, and my right arm was aching. I told my son, 'Make the room as cold as ice.'

''So he turned the air-conditioning on, and I took a baby aspirin. The doctor told me that saved my life. Jesus had something for me. He brought me through.''

The 80-year-old musical pioneer appeared to have fully recovered from the ordeal, although he had to travel from Nashville to Atlanta on a specially-equipped tour-bus fitted with a hospital bed.

The spiritually-minded star credited his Christian faith with helping him overcome many problems throughout his lengthy career and beat his addictions to alcohol and drugs.

Richard told the audience: ''God talked to me the other night. He said he's getting ready to come. The world's getting ready to end ... and he's coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around his throne.

''When I talk to you about [Jesus], I'm not playing. I'm almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn't be here.''

Richard last released an album in 1992 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.