Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images
For the last day of Black History Month, we have to honor one of the most important figures in rock ‘n’ roll history…Richard Wayne Penniman. You might recognize his more well-known name Little Richard! With his extravagant presence and style, Little Richard help cement the early 1950s era of rock ‘n’ roll that would influence the genre for the rest of time.
Richard’s childhood years were quite a struggle as he was kicked out of his own home at the age of 13 and his father was shot to death when he was just 19. Little Richard persevered through his hardships and became very involved in his church singing gospel and playing piano.
Little Richard got his big break in 1955 when he met Specialty Records producer Art Rupe who was searching for a hard-driven piano playing frontman. Little Richard was the answer when he recorded the future classic Tutti Frutti that year with Rupe which became an instant hit. The next couple of years he continued to bust out a plethora of other songs (including Good Golly Miss Molly and Long Tall Sally) that would shape rock ‘n’ roll forever while inspiring the next generation of musicians, especially a little group called The Beatles!
Little Richard’s life was full of success and inspiration. He was rightfully one of the original inductees into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences” in 1993.
Unfortunately, we lost Little Richard to bone cancer on May 9, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Watch Little Richard perform Long Tall Sally in 1955 here: