Good Golly, Mr Richard!
A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boom!Richard Wayne Penniman
— "Tutti Frutti"
(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
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
Ready, Teddy, for these tropes?:
- Ambiguously Gay and/or Ambiguously Bi: Little Richard's sexual orientation has been debated for more than half a century. The singer himself has described himself as gay in some interviews, but has also named himself an "omnisexual" in other interviews. Nevertheless his outrageously effeminate stage presence is part of his public persona and made him a gay icon nevertheless.
- Big Beautiful Woman: "Long Tall Sally".
- Cool Old Guy: He's now in his eighties and still sounds as good as he did in the 1950s. Not to mention the man looks damn good for his age.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: Sang and danced as he played piano with an energy that influenced James Brown, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Queen, Lou Reed,... among others.
- I Am the Band: Little Richard always performs with a band, but he is the star of the show.
- Intercourse with You: What else do you assume "Slippin' and Slidin'" is about?
- Long Runners: Little Richard started in 1956, and is still going strong live to this day.
- Lyrical Tic: He loves his "Whooooooh!"s and "Ah Hoooooooo!"s.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Only Little Richard could make stupid words like "A-Wop Bop-A-Lula A Whop Bam Boom" and "Tutti Frutti" awesome as hell!
- Music of Note: You can't talk about rock 'n' roll in the 1950s without mentioning him, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and/or Jerry Lee Lewis.
- The Moral Substitute: His gospel recordings, as well as Pat Boone's cover versions of some of his early hits.
- 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.
- One Woman Song: "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Long Tall Sally", "Miss Ann", "Lucille", "Jenny, Jenny", "The Girl Can't Help It".
- Rhyming with Itself: "Jenny, Jenny".
- Rock & Roll: One of the pioneers of the genre. His song "Ready Teddy" informs us he's "ready to rock 'n' roll!"
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: He had a very hard-partying lifestyle in the 1950s, but he obviously stopped later on.
- On Freak Out Frank Zappa mentions in the liner notes that Wowie Zowie is a song Little Richard likes. The singer obviously never heard Zappa's album, by the way.
- "Speed King" on Deep Purple In Rock is a shout-out to several Little Richard songs. The lyrics reference "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Lucille", "Tutti Frutti" and "Rip It Up".
- 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.