The news of Little Richard broke out on Saturday 9th May, leaving his fans all over the world grieving for this great loss to the music and entertainment industry. The singer died due to Bone cancer in Tullahoma, Tennessee, his family confirmed. From Good golly miss molly to Tutti Frutti to long tall sally, the star singer had an extensive list of songs people cherished throughout decades.
Little Richard was cited as an influence openly by legends like The Beatles, Elton John, Elvis Presley, and many others. Richard was inducted to Rock n Roll Hall of fame in 1986.
Richard was born in 1932 as Richard Wayne Penniman. Richard was one of the 12 children in his house. To stand from his other siblings, he started singing. While talking to the BBC in 2008, he said: “I was the biggest head of all and I still have the biggest head.”The attention of people is what drove Richard in the beginning. He loved being noticed and talked about when he was a teenager and “When I started banging piano and singing and screaming, I got attention.” he said.
Richard’s father was a preacher, who also ran a night club and his mother was a devoted Baptist. In the 1970s while talking to the Rolling stone magazine he said: “I was born in the slums, my daddy used to sell whiskey, bootleg whiskey.”
After having some disagreements with his father, he left home in his teenage years. His father did not initially support his love for music. Little Richard also said this once ” My daddy wanted seven boys and I ruined it because I was gay. “
Afterlife Controversies & struggles
Though Richard was openly homosexual for years, he also had a relationship with women. He married Ernestine Harvin. She was a fellow fundamentalist. They both later adopted a son. Richard was also known for drugs, hard-drinking, and sex parties. After witnessing the death of his brother due to cocaine addiction, he turned to religion again and was with time, appointed as a minister in 1970.
In the late 1950s, while performing in Sydney, Australia, Richard saw a fireball crossing the sky, while he was on stage, it was Sputnik 1 satellite returning to earth. For people, it was just a nice moment in human history to capture, but it had different meanings altogether for Richard. He took it as a sign and direction from God that he should immediately change his ways and later on he turned his back on music.
Richard enrolled in the Bible college in Alabama but was soon asked to leave due to allegations that he has exposed himself to another student. Within 5 years, he was back on tours performing for people and released an album in 1961. Even later, he renounced his homosexuality, framing it as a temporary choice he had made.
Richard also openly expressed his views about the deep-rooted racial prejudice prevailing in the societies of contemporary America. He also felt that his musical influence was never addressed as it should have been and for this, he blamed deep racial prejudice in America. He expressed
this at the height of his career.
He was very positive while handling and witnessing racial prejudice, ‘ I have always thought that rock n roll brought the races together.’ the legend once told an interviewer. His fans in America and all over the world did not care that he was black even when the racism was on its peak in the west and gave him the love he deserved unequivocally.
Richard is considered as the Founder of Rock. He is called as the innovator, the originator.
Little Richard was an electric performer, exuberant persona, a bellow vocalist. He was such an all-round force of nature, that popular music had not seen before he emerged in the late 1950s. Most famous and legendary artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix idolized Richard. The key part of their act’s DNA might have gone missing if Richard
wouldn’t have been there.
When he used to sing standing at his piano, with his vibrant hair, and with full-throated voice, songs like Tutti Frutti, Long tall sally, Good golly miss molly, it always felt like a fresh air ripping through your body.
Many Legends wrote for him on his death. We are mentioning a few. The former Beatles drummer Sir Ringo Starr said: ‘God bless Little Richard, one of my all-time musical heroes.”Loss of a true giant’ said Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers. While ‘his music would last forever’ said Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.
Through this small piece of article, we also pay our tribute to this great artist and entertainer for contributing so much to the art.
God bless Richard. Rest in Peace.
Thank you for reading.