Richard Wayne Penniman (December 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020), better known as Little Richard, was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. An influential figure in popular music, Richard’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll, leading him to be given the nickname “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”. Characterized by his frenetic piano playing and raspy singing voice, Richard’s music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop, and his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come.
“Tutti Frutti” (1955), one of Richard’s signature songs, became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on Billboard Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the United States and overseas in the United Kingdom. It reached No. 21 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 and No. 29 on the UK singles chart. Richard’s next hit single, “Long Tall Sally” (1956), hit No. 1 on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Top 100 while reaching the top ten in the UK. Following his success, Richard built up his backup band, The Upsetters, with the addition of saxophonists Clifford “Gene” Burks and leader Grady Gaines, bassist Olsie “Baysee” Robinson and guitarist Nathaniel “Buster” Douglas. Richard’s critically acclaimed debut album Here’s Little Richard (1957) peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Top LPs chart.
In 1962, concert promoter Don Arden persuaded Little Richard to tour Europe after telling him his records were still selling well there even though they were not in the United States. Having heard of Richard’s European tour, Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles, asked Arden to allow the band to open for Richard on some tour dates, to which he agreed. The first show for which the Beatles opened was at New Brighton’s Tower Ballroom that October. During this time, Richard advised the group on how to perform his songs and taught Paul McCartney his distinctive vocalizations. In the fall of 1963, Richard agreed to rescue a sagging tour featuring The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and The Rolling Stones. At the end of that tour, Richard was given his own television special for Granada Television titled The Little Richard Spectacular.
Richard was honored by many institutions. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2015, Richard received a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music for his key role in the formation of popular music genres and helping to bring an end to the racial divide on the music charts and in concert in the mid-1950s changing American culture significantly. “Tutti Frutti” was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated that his “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”.
Here’s Little Richard is the debut album from Little Richard, released on March 1957. He had scored six Top 40 hits the previous year, some of which were included on this recording. It was his highest charting album, at 13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The album contained two of Richard’s biggest hits, “Long Tall Sally”, which reached No. 6, and “Jenny, Jenny”, which reached No. 10 in the U.S. Pop chart.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 50 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and in 2010 Time listed it in the Top 100 Albums of All Time. The opening track “Tutti Frutti” was listed as No. 43 in Rolling Stone ‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (by wikipedia)
Little Richard had been making records for four years before he rolled into Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio in New Orleans and cut the epochal “Tutti Frutti” in the fall of 1955, but everything else he’d done — and much of what others had recorded — faded into insignificance when Richard wailed “A wop bop a loo mop a lomp bomp bomp” and kicked off one of the first great wailers in rock history. In retrospect, Little Richard’s style doesn’t seem so strikingly innovative as captured in 1956’s Here’s Little Richard — his boogie-woogie piano stylings weren’t all that different from what Fats Domino had been laying down since 1949, and his band pumped out the New Orleans backbeat that would define the Crescent City’s R&B for the next two decades, albeit with precision and plenty of groove. But what set Richard apart was his willingness to ramp up the tempos and turn the outrage meter up to ten; “Tutti Frutti,” “Rip It Up,” and “Jenny Jenny” still sound outrageous a half-century after they were waxed, and it’s difficult but intriguing to imagine how people must have reacted to Little Richard at a time when African-American performers were expected to be polite, and the notion of a gay man venturing out of the closet simply didn’t exist (Richard’s songs were thoroughly heterosexual on the surface, but the nudge and wink of “Tutti Frutti” and “Baby” is faint but visible, and his bop threads, mile-high process, and eye makeup clearly categorized him as someone “different”).
These 12 tunes may not represent the alpha and omega of Little Richard’s best music, but every song is a classic and unlike many of his peers, time has refused to render this first album quaint — Richard’s grainy scream remains one of the great sounds in rock & roll history, and the thunder of his piano and the frantic wail of the band is still the glorious call of a Friday night with pay in the pocket and trouble in mind. Brilliant stuff. (by Mark Deming)
Lee Allen (saxophone)
Edgar Blanchard (guitar)
Frank Fields (bass)
Earl Palmer (drums)
Little Richard (vocals, piano)
Alvin “Red” Tyler (saxophone)
Justin Adams (guitar on 01. + 05.)
Charles Connor (drums on 12.)
Nathaniel Douglas (guitar on 12.)
Lloyd Lambert (bass on 02.)
Roy Montrell (guitar on 09.)
Oscar Moore (drums on 02.)
William “Frosty” Pyles (guitar on 02.)
Renald Richard (trumpet on 02.)
Olsie Richard Robinson (bass on 12.)
Huey Smith (piano on 05.)
saxophone on 02.:
Clarence Ford – Joe Tillman
saxophone on 12.:
Wilbert Smith – Grady Gaines – Clifford Burks – Jewell Grant
01. Tutti-Frutti (Penniman/La Bostrie) 2.27
02. True Fine Mama (Penniman) 2.40
03. Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave (Price) 2.25
04. Ready Teddy (Marascalco/Blackwell) 2.06
05. Baby (Penniman) 2.03
06. Slippin’ And Slidin’ (Penniman/Collins) 2.41
09. Long Tall Sally (Penniman/Johnson/Blackwell) 2.07
10. Miss Ann (Johnson/Penniman) 2.14
11. Oh Why? (Scott) 2.06
12. Rip It Up (Marascalco/Blackwell) 2.21
13. Jenny, Jenny (Johnson/Penniman) 2.03
14. She’s Got It (Penniman/Marascalco) 2.24
Little Richard (December 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020)
RIP and thanks a lot for the fun you gave us