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.
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