Music: Little Richard

Good Golly, Mr Richard!

A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boom!
— "Tutti Frutti"

Richard Wayne Penniman (better known as Little Richard, born 5 December 1932) is 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, and few would dispute him the title.

Born to a gospel-singing family, Richard 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 is still going strong to this day.

His song Tutti Frutti was inducted in the National Recording Registry in 2010.

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1957 - Here's Little Richard
  • 1958 - Little Richard
  • 1959 - The Fabulous Little Richard
  • 1960 - Pray Along With Little Richard
  • 1960 - Pray Along With Little Richard Volume 2
  • 1962 - The King Of The Gospel Singers
  • 1964 - Little Richard Is Back (And There's A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On!)
  • 1965 - Little Richard's Greatest Hits
  • 1966 - The Incredible Little Richard Sings His Greatest Hits Live!
  • 1966 - The Wild And Frantic Little Richard
  • 1967 - The Explosive Little Richard
  • 1967 - Little Richard's Greatest Hits: Recorded Live!
  • 1970 - The Rill Thing
  • 1971 - Mr. Big
  • 1971 - The King Of Rock And Roll
  • 1972 - The Second Coming
  • 1972 - Friends From The Beginning Little Richard And Jimi Hendrix note 
  • 1973 - Right Now!
  • 1974 - Talkin' Bout Soul
  • 1976 - Little Richard Live
  • 1979 - God's Beautiful City
  • 1986 - Lifetime Friend
  • 1992 - Shake It All About
  • 2005 - Southern Child note 

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