R.I.P. Mr. Richard Wayne Penniman, born December 5th, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, known to the world as Little Richard. He died today, May 9th, at 87 years of age.
Here is what Billboard said about his first single, Tutti Frutti b/w I’m Just A Lonely Guy.
And here he is doing Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti. The original lyrics for Tutti Frutti were so explicit, the record label made him change them. I’m not going to print them here. :) Write me, if you must know.
He had an immeasurable impact on a generation of musicians, from the Beatles, to the Stones, to Elton John, to Bob Dylan and David Bowie. Basically everybody.
Nile Rodgers, who produced David Bowie’s album, Let’s Dance, tells this story:
The first incarnation of “Let’s Dance” that he played for me, he walked into my bedroom and he said, quote, “Nile, darling, I think this is a hit.” And he proceeded to play a folk song on a 12-string guitar that only had six strings on it. And I was like, “Oh man, this is so weird.” And the reason why that was weird to me was because we had been going out to museums and listening to records and looking at photographs and we amassed an amount of rock & roll imagery way before we did one note of music. So I had a visual picture of what the record should sound like.
When David finally realized what the record should sound like, he came to my apartment one day and he had a picture of Little Richard in a red suit getting into a red Cadillac. And he said to me, “Nile, darling, the record should sound like this!” And he showed me the picture. And I knew exactly — think of how crazy this was — I knew exactly what he meant. He didn’t mean he wanted his record to sound like a Little Richard record. He said, “This visual thing is what we want to achieve aurally in every sense of the word.” Even though the picture was obviously from the Fifties or the early Sixties, it looked modern. The Cadillac looked like a spaceship, and Little Richard was in this monochromatic outfit which then later on became David Bowie in the yellow monochromatic outfit with the yellow hair.
Rest in peace, you giants both.