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Music: Little Richard

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

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 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:


Tom LehrerReprise RecordsDean Martin
Jerry Lee LewisRock & RollElvis Presley
Tom LehrerCreator/Reprise RecordsNick Lowe
Avril LavigneCreator/Epic RecordsLive
Jerry Lee LewisRockLove
Dylan ThomasNational Recording RegistryBill Cosby
Jerry Lee LewisThe FiftiesRoy Orbison

alternative title(s): Little Richard
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