ATLANTA (AP) _ Rhythm-and-blues singer Billy Wright, whose flamboyant performing style and wild costumes influenced later performers including Little Richard, has died. He was 73.

Wright died of a pulmonary embolism Monday at an Atlanta hospital.

Wright had four hits in the Billboard magazine R&B Top 10 from 1949 to 1951, including ''Blues for My Baby,'' which reached No. 5.

Nicknamed the ''Prince of the Blues,'' Wright was the top R&B singer in Atlanta in the 1940s. He blended gospel music and the blues, singing with a mixture of crying and shouting.

Wright wore his hair in a pompadour and had an elaborate wardrobe, years before the style was adopted by Little Richard, a native of Macon, Ga., who became one of the giants of rock 'n' roll.

''I really looked up to Billy Wright. That's where I got the hairstyle from and everything,'' Little Richard said in the 1984 biography, ''The Life and Times of Little Richard.''

William Wright was born May 23, 1918, in Atlanta. He started singing as a child at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. He performed at Atlanta's top nightclubs, the Apollo Theater in New York City and the Howard Theater in Washington.