An American singer, songwriter and pianist who proclaims himself as "the architect of Rock & Roll
". One of the few artists active in The Fifties
whose mass popularity approached that of Elvis Presley
, Little Richard remains one of the most important figures in the history of rock music, few would dispute him the title.
Born in 1932 to a gospel-singing family, Richard Wayne Penniman recorded a few minor singles for small independent labels before he was discovered by record producers Art Rupe and Bumps Blackwell, who thought he could be a viable rival to Ray Charles
. Richard recorded a string of hits, including "Tutti Frutti", "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Long Tall Sally" and starred in rock and roll films around the same time teenagers were recognised as a whole new demographic. His performances were famously wild and frenetic and his playing style, incorporating boogie-woogie influences, Funk
rhythms and raw, energetic vocals, made Richard a huge hit with his audiences.
Things changed in 1957, when Penniman had a seemingly prophetic dream about the end of the world
, believed he saw angels carrying a plane he thought was crashing and heard that the Russians had just launched Sputnik. He became convinced that God was telling him to stop playing rock music, so he entered a seminary, became a minister and began recording gospel songs instead. After that, Little Richard oscillated between gospel and his old rock and roll style until he eventually reconciled his roles as a reverend and a rocker.And he was still going strong until 2013, when he finally retired.
This artist provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: At least one source says so.
- Bi the Way: Just here to cover all the possible options.
- Camp Straight: At least, according to the Other Wiki.
- Cool Old Guy: He's approaching eighty and still sounds as good as he did in the 1950s. Not to mention the man looks damn good for his age.
- I Am the Band
- Long Runners
- Lyrical Tic: He loves his "Whooooooh!"s and "Ah Hoooooooo!"s
- Older Than They Look: Sure, he got cosmetic surgery, but it seemed to have went well. He pretty much defines this trope. You would need to see his fucking birth certificate to be convinced he's almost 80.
- The Moral Substitute: His gospel recordings, as well as Pat Boone's cover versions of some of his early hits.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: He had a very hard-partying lifestyle in the 1950s, but he obviously stopped later on.
- Signature Style: A mixture of boogie-woogie piano playing with funk rhythms and raspy vocals, or alternatively, "piano riff WOO!".
- Snake Oil Salesman: He worked for a travelling medicine show when he was a teenager. His job was to scream, sing and leap around the stage to attract a crowd and demonstrate the "results" of the stuff the salesman was pushing.
- Three Chords and the Truth: Almost all of his music was twelve-bar blues.
- Throw It In: Essentially how Richard became successful - an initial session with Blackwell failed to produce anything satisfactory and proved frustrating, so he started pounding out "Tutti Frutti" during a lunch break. Blackwell quickly recorded the song, with only a small adjustment to Bowdlerize the lyrics, and it became a hit.