Little Richard | Artist

Little Richard | Artist

Tags: Era_1950s, Gender_Male, Genre_Pop_Rock, Origin_USA, Type_Artist

Richard Wayne Penniman aka Little Richard was an American singer, songwriter, and musician born 1932 in Macon Georgia. An influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, Penniman's peak was in the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterised by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll. Richard started out in music in October 1947, when Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard the 14-year-old Penniman singing her songs before a performance at the Macon City Auditorium. She invited him to open her show, inspiring him to become a professional performer. Penniman stated that he was inspired to play the piano after he heard Ike Turner's piano intro on "Rocket 88". After working the Minstrel Show circuit, Penniman met a local DJ Zenas Sears who recorded Penniman at his radio station which led to a contract that year with RCA Victor. Penniman recorded a total of eight sides for RCA Victor, including the blues ballad, "Every Hour," which became his first single and a hit in Georgia. Penniman came to the attention of Specialty Records' owner Art Rupe who loaned him money to buy out of his contract and set him to work with producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell who saw Penniman as Specialty's answer to Ray Charles. During a recording session Penniman launched into a risqué dirty blues number he titled "Tuttie Frutti". After cleaning up some of the more overtly sexual lyrics, the song was recorded in three takes in September 1955 and "Tutti Frutti" was released as a single that November. It became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on Billboard magazine's R&B Best Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the USA and overseas in the UK. It reached No. 21 on the Billboard Top 100 in America and No. 29 on the British singles chart, eventually selling a million copies. His next hit single "Long Tall Sally" (1956), hit number one on the R&B chart and number 13 on the Top 100 while reaching the top ten in Britain. Like "Tutti Frutti", it sold over a million copies. Shortly after the release of "Tutti Frutti", Penniman relocated to Los Angeles, settling into a wealthy, formerly predominantly white neighborhood. His first album, Here's Little Richard was released by Specialty in May 1957 and peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Top LPs chart. Penniman's contemporaries, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran all recorded covers of his works, which also influenced the next generation of rockers such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Over a 60 year career Richard released 23 studio albums plus countless Singles and EPs. Standout albums include Here's Little Richard (1957), Little Richard (1958), The Fabulous Little Richard (1959), and The Rill Thing (1970). Amongst hundreds of compilations, one standout is His Biggest Hits from 1960 on Specialty Records. In 2007, a panel of renowned recording artists voted "Tutti Frutti" number one on Mojo's Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as "the sound of the birth of rock and roll".

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Featured Albums: Little Richard

Related Artists: The Beatles

Video Clips: Long Tall Sally-Tutti Frutti, Lucille, Good Golly Miss Molly

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