Little Richard
Singer-songwriter, musician
Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman, known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the mid-1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and contributed significantly to the early development of soul music.
Biography
Little Richard's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Little Richard from around the web
Musician seeks out bigots in documentary 'Accidental Courtesy'
LATimes - 3 months
Though the subject of “Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America” is a musician who has played with Chuck Berry and Little Richard, it’s not Daryl Davis’ musical talent that makes him the focus of the documentary. Instead, it’s his ongoing mission as an African American man to meet members...
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LATimes article
Little Richard Fast Facts
CNN - 3 months
Read CNN's Fast Facts on Little Richard and learn more about the life of self-proclaimed "Architect of Rock 'n' Roll."
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CNN article
Little Richard five-LP box set highlights one of rock's original wild men
LATimes - 7 months
The story of Little Richard’s rise to stardom in the 1950s is a textbook example of the vital David-and-Goliath role that independent record labels played in the birth of rock ’n’ roll in a world dominated by bigger players.  That’s one of the highlights of the just-released “The Mono Box: Complete...
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LATimes article
The Political Bob Dylan
Huffington Post - 9 months
Folksinger Joan Baez sang Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing" at a Bernie Sanders rally in San Jose last week. Nobody knows what Dylan thinks of the current political scene because he turned his back on politics many years ago. But it doesn't matter what Dylan -- who turned 75 this week -- thinks because his music has a life of its own. It resonates with today's young activists just as it inspired their counterparts in the 1960s. When the makers of Hollywood movies, documentary films, or TV news programs want to evoke the spirit of the 1960s, they typically show clips of long-haired hippies dancing at a festival, protestors marching at an antiwar rally, or students sitting-in at a lunch counter, with one of Dylan's songs--"Blowin' in the Wind" or "The Times They Are a-Changin'"--playing in the background. Since he emerged on the music since in 1961, Dylan has gone through many personal, religious, and artistic transformations. But journalists and historians still tr ...
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Huffington Post article
5 Lessons for Creatives From David Bowie's Remarkably Imaginative and Prolific Journey
Huffington Post - about 1 year
In memoriam of David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie (1947-2016) The news of David Bowie's death left a creative void for the music industry and admirers. Most fans around the world did not even know he had been battling cancer. Bowie lived a life of distinguishable, unparalleled oddity and artistry to the end. And even in death he was creative, and so unpredictably yet undeniably Bowie. Below are five lessons and quotes for creatives from David Bowie's remarkably imaginative and prolific journey. Produce until you die and even still keep going. Be creative and keep creating, so that even after your death you're still prolific and you're still speaking. I remember explaining to someone once that it's my hope to leave a legacy for my son. That legacy would include life lessons and teachings, faith, and memories, but I've also always believed in the eternal power of writing, and publishing books and articles. For me, a good book on a library shelf, resting on a mantle or by the heart ...
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Huffington Post article
Inside David Bowie's Idiosyncratic Art Collection
Huffington Post - about 1 year
This article originally appeared on artnet News. "Art was, seriously, the only thing I'd ever wanted to own," legendary musician David Bowie, who died on Sunday, January 10 at age 69, told the New York Times in 1998. "It can change the way that I feel in the mornings." He went on to espouse his admiration for Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, and Francis Picabia, and his appreciation of Marcel Duchamp's sense of humor—although Bowie allowed that "there's the other side of me that thinks he did it just because he couldn't paint." This love of art manifested itself in the music: As early as 1969, Bowie referenced Georges Braque in the lyrics of "Unwashed and Slightly Dazed." "Joe the Lion," released in 1977, pays tribute to a Chris Burden performance art piece with the line "nail me to my car and I'll tell you who you are." In 1974, Bowie based the set design for his Diamond Dogs tour in part on the work of satirical German artist George Grosz. Bowie's well-known lo ...
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Huffington Post article
Best pop music box sets of 2015: Bowie, Dylan and Little Richard
Chicago Times - about 1 year
Here are some of the most notable boxed sets this year in rock and pop: David Bowie, "Five Years 1969-1973" (Parlophone, $97): Bowie had spent the five years previous to this boxed set trying to break out as a theatrical crooner in swinging London. "Five Years" documents David Jones' transition...
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Chicago Times article
Little Richard Fast Facts
CNN - over 1 year
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CNN article
Ted Nugent: From Behind the Six String
Huffington Post - over 1 year
"Ted Nugent is a working hard, playing hard, all-American, ass-kicking, son of a bitch, who exudes and defines the soulfulness of American rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll -- and a pretty damn good bow hunter too." -- Ted Nugent He may be known as the "Motor City Madman," but when Ted Nugent called me up a few months back as I sat in my hotel room in New Orleans, the way that he spoke reminded me of a book that I once read called, Zen In The Art Of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel. Although the book is one man's quest to understand Zen Buddhism taught through the learning of archery, I found that you could substitute any form of art in place of the word "archery" and it would apply. In the book there is a passage that reads: ... the right frame of mind for the artist is only reached when the preparing and creating, the technical and the artistic, the material and the spiritual, the project and the object, flow together without a break. Although my interviews primarily are guitar- ...
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Huffington Post article
Couch bound? Here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Netflix
Yahoo News - over 1 year
This list is continually updated to reflect recent Netflix availability as TV shows are frequently added and removed. Netflix has a treasure trove of awesome movies that you can stream right now, but if you’re looking for more than just a two-hour commitment, it’s also got a boatload of great TV shows you can delve into to keep yourself occupied for days, or even weeks on end. If you just finished a good series and you need a new one to fill the void, Netflix is the place to go. Nothing beats a weekend-long marathon with no commercials, so without further ado, we give you our tightly-curated list of the best Netflix Instant TV shows. Related: Best movies streaming on Hulu | Best movies streaming on YouTube Jump to: New this month Drama Comedy Sci-Fi/Fantasy Action/Mystery Reality TV/Documentary Memory Lane Kids Note: For a complete list of everything coming to Netflix, as well as what’s going away, take a look at our comprehensive monthly breakdown. New for November 2015 Master of None ...
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Yahoo News article
Music From The Show
Here And Now - WBUR - almost 2 years
Note: If you like what you hear, check out our “Best Music Interludes” playlist on Spotify, curated by our technical director John Perotti. Spotify is free to use but requires a login. Ben Benjamin’, “Air Parsing” Patrick Hernadez, “Born To Be Alive” Talk Demonic, “Leaving Light” Unwed Sailors, “Shadows” Alexander Tucker, “His Arm Has Grown Long” Little Richard, “Kansas City” Helvetia, “The Acrobats” Ochre, “A Great Wave” Battles, “Futura” Tussle, “Moon Tempo” Avi Buffalo, “Truth Sets In” Trans Am, “Love Affair” Pram, “Track Of The Cat” Little People, “Moon” Porter Robinson, “Divinity” Alt-J, “Arrival In Nara” Com Truise, “Flightwave” Tortoise, “Everglade” Slightly Stoopid, “2am”
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Here And Now - WBUR article
Magical History Tour -- and Your Fave Fab Four Album Is in the Cards
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon (vorne v.l.) und Ringo Starr (hinten) von der englischen Band The Beatles treten in New York, USA, in der TV-Sendung "Ed Sullivan Show" des Senders CBS auf (Foto vom 09.02.64). Zur Jubilaeumsfeier der ersten Beatles-Single "Love Me Do", die vor 50 Jahren erschien, versammeln sich Fans der legendaeren Band vom 5. bis 7. Oktober 2012 in Liverpool zu einem "Love Me Do Weekend." For many, the magic associated with the best of the 1960s will always be inextricably entwined with the phenomenon of the Beatles. Success was certainly in the cards for John, Paul, George and Ringo fifty years ago this month, when they stepped off a plane in New York, with a modest entourage that included their manager Brian Epstein. They soon won over the hearts of a nation's youth via their legendary Ed Sullivan Show appearances and first American concerts. Success is also in the cards for you, with the "Fave Fab Four Album" card effect described below. ...
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Huffington Post article
America Invades the Beatles
Huffington Post - about 3 years
As even your average rock in Central Park knows, it has been 50 years since The Beatles invaded America and thank God, we're still not over it. Frankly it's the one bug that I've been thrilled to have and for the chronic fan, like myself, while this is a time well worth celebrating, this week isn't really any different than any other because not an average hour goes by on any average week when I'm not either listening to or reading about them. The fact is that there is not a musician on the planet who is not channeling the fab four with every string plucked or every song sung. It's like we were one huge block soft, impressionable block of Graumann's Chinese Theater cement who have been forever imprinted by their scouser magic. Since 1964, our DNA has had a perfect joyful pitch. Have you seen the size of the giddy throngs at Paul McCartney concerts? I'm sure that the Pope watches and says, "Hey, how do I attract a crowd like that?" The next wave of fans are already gestating in utero ...
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Huffington Post article
Hip Hop in the Rock Hall Is Cool
Huffington Post - over 3 years
In recent years, I've grown tired of hearing people who would classify themselves as music lovers offering vaguely snide comments about rap and Hip hop artists making the grade in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I heard a few doubting comments about Run-DMC, more with Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, interestingly not too much when Beastie Boys, then again a few more when Public Enemy made the cut time around. As a self-confessed white guy, I wish to object to all those who wonder aloud, "What does Hip Hop and Rap have to do with Rock & Roll?" To restate what should be obvious, Rock & Roll means many things to many people. Lest we ever forget, Rock & Roll was the explosive result of an extraordinary chemical reaction that occurred back in the Fifties when the thrilling music of great Black America artists and the similarly brilliant rootsy sounds of great white artists came together to create something new under the sun -- a giant youth movement supernova called R ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Little Richard
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 83
    In May 2016, the National Museum of African American Music issued a press release indicating that Little Richard was one of the key artists and music industry leaders that attended its 3rd annual My Music Matters Legends Luncheon in Nashville honoring Shirley Caesar, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff with Rhapsody & Rhythm Awards.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 2015
    Age 82
    In June 2015, Little Richard appeared before a paying audience, clad in sparkly boots and a brightly colored jacket at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville to receive the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from and raise funds for the National Museum of African American Music.
    More Details Hide Details It was reported that he charmed the crowd by reminiscing about his early days working in Nashville nightclubs.
    In 2015, the National Museum of African American Music honored Little Richard with a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award for his pivotal role in the formation of popular music genres and in helping to shatter the color line on the music charts, changing American culture significantly.
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  • 2014
    Age 81
    In 2014, actor Brandon Mychal Smith won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Little Richard in the James Brown biographical drama film Get on Up.
    More Details Hide Details Mick Jagger co-produced the motion picture.
  • 2013
    Age 80
    Little Richard appeared in person to receive an honorary degree from his hometown's Mercer University on May 11, 2013.
    More Details Hide Details The day before the doctorate of humanities degree was to be bestowed upon him, the mayor of Macon announced that one of Little Richard's childhood homes, an historic site, will be moved to a rejuvenated section of that city's Pleasant Hill district. It will be restored and named the Little Richard Penniman – Pleasant Hill Resource House, a meeting place where local history and artifacts will be displayed as provided by residents. Penniman was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on May 7, 2015. On June 6, 2015, Penniman was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame On June 19, 2015, the National Museum of African American Music honored Penniman with the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award for his key role in the formation of popular music genres, influencing singers and musicians across genres from Rock to Hip-Hop, and helping to shatter the color line on the music charts changing American culture forever.
    In 2013, Little Richard elaborated on his spiritual philosophies, stating "God talked to me the other night.
    More Details Hide Details He said He's getting ready to come. The world's getting ready to end and He's coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around his throne." Rolling Stone reported his apocalyptic prophesies generated snickers from some audience members as well as cheers of support. Little Richard responded by stating: "When I talk to you about Jesus, I'm not playing. I'm almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn't be here." Little Richard's music and performance style had a pivotal impact on the shape of the sound and style of popular music genres of the 20th century. As a rock and roll pioneer, Little Richard embodied its spirit more flamboyantly than any other performer. Little Richard's raspy shouting style gave the genre one of its most identifiable and influential vocal sounds and his fusion of boogie-woogie, New Orleans R&B and gospel music blazed its rhythmic trail.
  • 2012
    Age 79
    He somberly told a Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. audience in June 2012, "I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord.
    More Details Hide Details The world is getting close to the end. Get close to the Lord."
    Little Richard performed a full 90-minute show at the Pensacola Interstate Fair in Pensacola, Florida, in October 2012, at the age of 79, and headlined at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas during Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend in March 2013.
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    Rolling Stone reported that at a performance at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., in June 2012, Little Richard was "still full of fire, still a master showman, his voice still loaded with deep gospel and raunchy power."
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  • 2010
    Age 77
    However, sciatic nerve pain in his left leg and then replacement of the involved hip began affecting the frequency of his performances by 2010.
    More Details Hide Details Despite his health problems, Little Richard continued to receive critical acclaim for his performances.
    In June 2010, Little Richard recorded a gospel track for an upcoming tribute album to songwriting legend Dottie Rambo.
    More Details Hide Details Towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Rolling Stone reported that Little Richard remained "one of the most recognized and quotable celebrities in the world." Throughout the decade, he kept up a stringent touring schedule, performing primarily in the United States and Europe.
  • 2008
    Age 75
    Little Richard and Lewis performed alongside John Fogerty at the 2008 Grammy Awards in a tribute to the two artists considered to be cornerstones of rock and roll by the NARAS.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, Little Richard appeared on radio host Don Imus' benefit album for sick children, The Imus Ranch Record.
  • 2006
    Age 73
    In 2006, Little Richard wedded twenty couples who won a contest in one ceremony.
    More Details Hide Details The musician used his experience and knowledge as a minister and elder statesman of rock and roll to preach at funerals of musical friends such as Wilson Pickett and Ike Turner. At a benefit concert in 2009 to raise funds to help rebuild children's playgrounds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Little Richard asked guest of honor Fats Domino to pray with him and others. His assistants handed out inspirational booklets at the concert—a common practice at Little Richard's shows.
  • 2005
    Age 72
    A 2005 recording of his duet vocals with Jerry Lee Lewis on a cover of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" was included on Lewis's 2006 album, Last Man Standing.
    More Details Hide Details The same year, Little Richard was a guest judge on the TV series Celebrity Duets.
  • 2002
    Age 69
    In 2002, Little Richard contributed to the Johnny Cash tribute album, Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash.
    More Details Hide Details In 2006, Little Richard was featured in a popular advertisement for the GEICO brand.
  • 2000
    Age 67
    In 2000, Little Richard's life was dramatized for the biographical film Little Richard, which focused on his early years, including his heyday, his religious conversion and his return to secular music in the early 1960s.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard was played by Leon, who earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance in this role.
  • 1993
    Age 60
    In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
    More Details Hide Details In 1997, he was given the American Music Award of Merit. In 2002, along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, Little Richard was honored as one of the first group of BMI icons at the 50th Annual BMI Pop Awards. That same year, he was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame. A year later, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame. Four years afterwards, he received a plaque on the theater's Walk of Fame. In 2008, he received a star at Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The UK issue of GQ named him its Man of the Year in its Legend category in 2010.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1992
    Age 59
    In 1992, yet another album of remakes was released, this time with Richard and Japanese guitar hero, Takanaka.
    More Details Hide Details Included in the band were swamp guitarist Travis Wammack and his drummer son Monkee, members of Richard's then current touring band.
    He also recorded a rock and roll version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" that year that led to a deal with Disney Records, resulting in the release of a hit 1992 children's album, Shake It All About.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout the 1990s, Little Richard performed around the world and appeared on TV, film, and tracks with other artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Elton John and Solomon Burke.
  • 1990
    Age 57
    In 1990, Little Richard contributed a spoken-word rap on Living Colour's hit song, "Elvis Is Dead", from their album Time's Up.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, he was one of the featured performers on the hit single and video "Voices That Care" that was produced to help boost the morale of U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm.
  • 1989
    Age 56
    In 1989, Little Richard provided rhythmic preaching and background vocals on the extended live version of the U2–B.B. King hit "When Love Comes to Town".
    More Details Hide Details That same year, Little Richard returned to singing his classic hits following a performance of "Lucille" at an AIDS benefit concert.
  • 1985
    Age 52
    In 1985, Charles White released Little Richard's authorized biography, Quasar of Rock: The Life and Times of Little Richard, which returned Little Richard to the spotlight.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard returned to show business in what Rolling Stone would refer to as a "formidable comeback" following the book's release. Reconciling his roles as evangelist and rock and roll musician for the first time, Little Richard stated that the genre could be used for good or evil. After accepting a role in the film Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Little Richard and Billy Preston penned the faith-based rock and roll song "Great Gosh A'Mighty" for its soundtrack. Little Richard won critical acclaim for his film role, and the song found success on the American and British charts. The hit led to the release of the album Lifetime Friend (1986) on Warner Bros. Records, with songs deemed "messages in rhythm", including a gospel rap track. In addition to a version of "Great Gosh A'Mighty", cut in England, the album featured two singles that charted in the UK, "Somebody's Comin'" and "Operator". Little Richard spent much of the rest of the decade as a guest on TV shows and appearing in films, winning new fans with what was referred to as his "unique comedic timing".
  • 1984
    Age 51
    In 1984, Little Richard's mother, Leva Mae, died following a period of illness.
    More Details Hide Details Only a few months prior to her death, Little Richard promised her that he would remain a Christian. During the 1980s and 1990s, Little Richard officiated at celebrity weddings.
    In 1984, Little Richard filed a $112 million lawsuit against Specialty Records; Art Rupe and his publishing company, Venice Music; and ATV Music for not paying him royalties after he left the label in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details The suit was settled out of court in 1986. According to some reports, Michael Jackson gave Little Richard monetary compensation from his work when he co-owned (with Sony-ATV) songs by the Beatles and Little Richard.
  • FORTIES
  • 1977
    Age 44
    In 1977, longtime friend Larry Williams once showed up with a gun and threatened to kill Little Richard for failing to pay his drug debt.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard later mentioned that this was the most fearful moment of his life because Williams's own drug addiction made him wildly unpredictable. Little Richard did, however, also acknowledge that he and Williams were "very close friends" and when reminiscing of the drug-fueled clash, he recalled thinking "I knew he loved me – I hoped he did". Within that same year, Little Richard had several devastating personal experiences, including his brother Tony's death of a heart attack, the accidental shooting of his nephew that he loved like a son, and the murder of two close personal friends – one a valet at "the heroin man's house". The combination of these experiences convinced Little Richard to give up drugs and alcohol, along with rock and roll, and return to the ministry. Little Richard's family had deep evangelical (Baptist and African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)) Christian roots, including two uncles and a grandfather who were preachers. Little Richard also took part in Macon's Pentecostal churches, which were his favorites mainly due to their music, charismatic praise, dancing in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. At age 10, influenced by Pentecostalism, Little Richard would go around saying he was a faith healer, singing gospel music to people who were feeling sick and touching them. He later recalled that they would often indicate that they felt better after he prayed for them and would sometimes give him money.
    Following over ten years of drug and alcohol abuse and a string of recent personal tragedies, Little Richard quit rock and roll music again in 1977 and returned to evangelism, releasing one gospel album, God's Beautiful City, in 1979.
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  • 1973
    Age 40
    In 1973, Richard made a spectacular contribution to the critically acclaimed documentary "Let The Good Times Roll", and he was given a full album side in a two-disc soundtrack album from the film, which charted.
    More Details Hide Details Leaving Reprise, that same year, he charted for independent labels, including Green Mountain Records, for which he recorded "In the Middle of the Night"; the proceeds were donated to victims charity of tornadoes that had caused damage in 12 states. In 1976, the Mainstream Records single "Call My Name" was distributed by Motown but barely charted. That same year, Little Richard re-recorded 18 of his classic hits in Nashville for K-Tel Records, with a single featuring new versions of "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Rip It Up" reaching the UK singles chart.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1970
    Age 37
    Little Richard signed with Reprise Records in 1970, releasing the album The Rill Thing, which included the chart-making singles "Freedom Blues" and "Greenwood, Mississippi".
    More Details Hide Details His follow-ups for Reprise failed to produce similar success, and He spent much of the decade performing as a guest instrumentalist on sessions with rockers such as Delaney and Bonnie, Joey Covington and Joe Walsh. The sessions for Canned Heat's "Rockin' with the King" (1972) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Take It Like a Man" (1976) resulted in chart successes. Little Richard and three of his brothers formed a management company, Bud Hole Incorporated, around this time.
  • 1969
    Age 36
    Little Richard returned to the national spotlight in 1969 as a performer at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, where he stole the show from top performers such as Janis Joplin; he did the same to headliner John Lennon at the Toronto Pop Festival.
    More Details Hide Details These successes brought Little Richard to talk shows such as the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the Dick Cavett Show, making him a major celebrity again.
  • 1968
    Age 35
    Despite recording and public relations struggles, according to his Songwriters Hall of Fame biography, he had sold over 32 million records worldwide by 1968.
    More Details Hide Details Focusing on live performances rather than recordings at the end of the 1960s, Little Richard found success with performances in casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City.
  • 1967
    Age 34
    Leaving Okeh in late 1967, Little Richard briefly recorded with Brunswick but left shortly after his final session.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard struggled when he returned to secular music in the 1960s. He often complained to producers in the 1960s that he felt unappreciated as producers pushed him towards a horn-oriented Motown sound and felt he wasn't treated with appropriate respect. Little Richard often performed in dingy clubs and lounges with little support from his label. Little Richard adapted a wilder flamboyant and androgynous image that, while a hit with club audiences, was a problem for labels attempting to promote him to conservative R&B buyers. Angered by his decision to "backslide" from his ministry, clergymen in the South forced radio disk jockeys to ignore Little Richard's work. His insistence on performing in front of mixed audiences prevented him from receiving radio time in the areas of Los Angeles affected by the Watts riots.
  • 1966
    Age 33
    Okeh paired Little Richard musically with his friend from the mid-1950s, Larry Williams, who produced two albums for him in 1966 and 1967; the first being a studio album, The Explosive Little Richard, which generated the modest hit singles "Poor Dog" and "Commandments of Love", and the second, Little Richard's Greatest Hits: Recorded Live!, which returned him to the pop album charts for the first time in ten years and also hit number 28 on the Hot R&B LPs chart.
    More Details Hide Details Williams also acted as the music director for Little Richard's live performances at the Okeh Club in Los Angeles amid the Okeh period, during which time the demand for Little Richard's appearances increased greatly.
    He left that label in early 1966 for Okeh Records.
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  • 1965
    Age 32
    Little Richard and Hendrix clashed over tardiness, wardrobe and Hendrix's stage antics, and as a result, in July 1965, Little Richard's brother Robert fired Hendrix.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, Little Richard attempted to set up his own record label but only cut two unreleased tracks. Instead he signed with Modern Records, which resulted in a very agreeable string of rock and soul singles but yielded just one chart-maker, "Do You Feel It?".
  • 1964
    Age 31
    By September 1964, Jimi Hendrix, known to Richard as Maurice James, had joined the Upsetters band, as a full member.
    More Details Hide Details In December, Jimi and some '50s band members joined Richard in New York for a session of remakes. The most successful collaboration between Little Richard and Hendrix came in the following year, also in New York, when Hendrix, Billy Preston, and Little Richard recorded the soul ballad "I Don't Know What You've Got (But It's Got Me)", which became a number 12 R&B hit.
    In 1964, Little Richard returned briefly to Specialty and recorded five songs, including the charted single, "Bama Lama Bama Loo", which reached the top 20 in the UK but only number 82 in the US.
    More Details Hide Details Later that year, he signed with Vee-Jay Records and issued the album Little Richard Is Back. The album failed to catch on domestically, despite a televised performance of the single "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" on Shindig! that drew wild responses from audience members.
  • 1963
    Age 30
    Campbell claimed when the marriage ended in divorce in 1963, it was due to Little Richard's celebrity status, noting that it had made life difficult for her.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1962
    Age 29
    While married, in 1962, Little Richard adopted a one-year-old boy, Danny Jones, from a late church associate.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard and his son remain close, with Jones often acting as one of his bodyguards. Little Richard's sexual orientation has long been a topic of debate. Little Richard claimed that as a child he felt feminine and played with girls, which was the source of jokes at his expense. Caught wearing his mother's makeup and wardrobe at times, he was brutally punished by his father. Little Richard began having sexual encounters with both sexes by his early teens. Allegedly because of his effeminate mannerisms, Little Richard's father kicked him out of their family home at 15. Little Richard first became involved in voyeurism in his early twenties, when a female friend of his would drive him around and pick up men who would allow him to watch them have sex in the backseat of cars. Little Richard was once arrested after a gas station attendant in Macon reported sexual activity in a car featuring Little Richard and a couple. Cited on a lewd conduct charge, Little Richard spent three days in jail and was temporarily banned from performing in Macon, Georgia.
    In 1962, concert promoter Don Arden persuaded Little Richard to tour Europe after telling him his records were still selling well there.
    More Details Hide Details Arden booked him as the headline artist, with Sam Cooke second on the bill. Little Richard performed gospel material at the first show and received a tepid response (Cooke did not open that show, as he was delayed in arriving). After Cooke opened the second show, with vigorous applause from the crowd, Little Richard and his organist Billy Preston warmed up in darkness before launching into "Long Tall Sally", resulting in hysterical responses. Little Richard's shows received similar responses wherever he performed, including a show at Mansfield's Granada Theatre, which closed early after fans rushed the stage. Wanting to capitalize on these headline-grabbing performances, Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, asked Little Richard and Arden to allow his newly recorded band to open for Little Richard on some tour dates, to which they agreed. The first show for which the Beatles opened was at New Brighton's Tower Ballroom that October. The following month, they opened for Little Richard at the Star Club in Hamburg. During this time, Little Richard advised the group on how to perform his songs and taught Paul McCartney his distinctive vocalizations. Back in the U.S., Little Richard recorded six rock and roll songs with the Upsetters for Little Star Records, under the name "World Famous Upsetters", allowing him to keep his options open in the ministry.
  • 1959
    Age 26
    They began dating that year and wed in July 1959.
    More Details Hide Details According to Campbell, she and Little Richard initially enjoyed a happy marriage with "normal" sexual relations.
  • 1957
    Age 24
    The relationship ended after Little Richard's religious conversion in 1957.
    More Details Hide Details Robinson later became a stripper using the name Lee Angel. According to Robinson, Little Richard wanted to continue to see her but she felt uncomfortable seeing a preacher as a stripper. Described in GQs UK edition as a "lifelong soulmate", Robinson and Little Richard are occasionally in each other's company. Little Richard met his only wife, Ernestine Campbell, at an evangelical rally in October 1957.
    A month after his conversion, while speaking at an evangelical convention in November 1957, Little Richard met Ernestine Campbell, a secretary from Washington, D.C. He married her on July 11, 1959.
    More Details Hide Details Around this time, Little Richard began recording gospel and had some chart success with songs such as "He's Not Just a Soldier" and "Crying in the Chapel". Another gospel single, "He Got What He Wanted", reached the top 40 in the UK. Childhood heroine Mahalia Jackson acknowledged his gospel efforts after hearing him sing at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles. After working with Little Richard on the Mercury album King of the Gospel Singers, Quincy Jones remarked in 1984 that his performance in the studio impressed him more than any other artist with whom he had worked.
    In October 1957, Little Richard embarked on a package tour in Australia with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.
    More Details Hide Details During the middle of the tour, he shocked the public by announcing his decision to follow a life in the ministry. Little Richard later explained that during a flight from Melbourne to Sydney that he had seen the plane's red hot engines and felt angels were holding it up. During the Sydney performance, Little Richard saw a bright red fireball flying across the sky above him and was deeply shaken. He took the event, later revealed as the launching of the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1, as a sign from God to repent from performing secular music and his wild lifestyle and enter the ministry. Returning to the states ten days early, Little Richard later learned that his original return flight had crashed into the Pacific Ocean solidifying his belief he was doing as God wanted. After a performance at the Apollo Theater and a recording session with Specialty later that month, Little Richard enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, to study theology. Fueling his decision to leave the music business was Little Richard's feeling that he hadn't received proper remuneration from Specialty. Upon ending his contract with Specialty in 1959, Little Richard reluctantly agreed to relinquish any royalties for his material. In 1958, he formed the Little Richard Evangelistic Team, traveling across the country to preach.
    In May 1957, Specialty Records released Little Richard's first album, which contained six single recordings that had already been hits on the charts.
    More Details Hide Details Here's Little Richard, which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, then a rare feat for a rock and roll artist. He had engaged in a serious romance with Audrey Robinson, then a teenage college student and later a stripper under the stage name Lee Angel.
  • 1956
    Age 23
    In 1956, Little Richard began a romantic relationship with Audrey Robinson, a 16-year-old college student, originally from Savannah, Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details According to Little Richard, he would invite other men to have sex with her in groups and once invited Buddy Holly to have sex with her; Robinson denied those claims.
    Little Richard's success made him a millionaire and, in late 1956, he settled in Los Angeles, purchasing a mansion in a wealthy section of the city, where he lived next door to boxer Joe Louis.
    More Details Hide Details
    Little Richard had nine hits in the US in 1956 and five in Britain, with recordings such as "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Rip It Up" "Ready Teddy", "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Lucille".
    More Details Hide Details Most of Little Richard's earlier hits inspired covers by the likes of Pat Boone, Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. Described as having "electrifying movie-star looks", Little Richard accepted brief roles in movies such as Don't Knock the Rock, Mister Rock and Roll and The Girl Can't Help It. His success continued in 1957 with international hits such as "Jenny, Jenny" and "Keep A-Knockin'". Little Richard scored further hit singles such as "Good Golly, Miss Molly", eventually scoring 18 hit singles in less than three years.
    During Little Richard's show at Baltimore's Royal Theatre in June 1956, several fans had to be restrained from jumping off the balcony.
    More Details Hide Details Cops stopped the show twice to prevent fans who had rushed the stage from ripping souvenirs off of Little Richard. During the same show, a woman threw a pair of her undergarments onstage at Little Richard, leading other female fans to repeat the action.
  • 1955
    Age 22
    At the suggestion of Lloyd Price, Little Richard sent a two-song demo to Price's label, Specialty Records, in February 1955.
    More Details Hide Details Time passed before Little Richard got a call to record for the label. Art Rupe, owner of Specialty Records, loaned Little Richard money to buy out his Peacock contract and set him up to work with producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell. Upon hearing the demo, Blackwell felt Little Richard was Specialty's answer to Ray Charles. Little Richard told Blackwell he preferred the sound of Fats Domino. As a result, Little Richard began recording at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in New Orleans that September, recording there with several of Domino's session musicians, including drummer Earl Palmer and saxophonist Lee Allen. The initial cuts failed to produce anything that would inspire huge sales, and Little Richard and his producer took a break at a club called the Dew Drop Inn. While there, Little Richard performed a risqué song he had improvised from his days on the club circuit called "Tutti Frutti". The song's a cappella introduction was based on a drum rhythm Little Richard had devised. Blackwell felt the song had hit potential and hired songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie to replace some of Little Richard's sexual lyrics with less controversial words. Recorded in three takes in September 1955, "Tutti Frutti" was released as a single in November.
  • 1953
    Age 20
    With the Tempo Toppers, Little Richard signed with Don Robey's Peacock Records in February 1953, recording eight sides, including four with Johnny Otis and his band that were unreleased at the time.
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard had a contentious relationship with Robey and soon found himself disenchanted with the record business and with his group, leaving Peacock and disbanding the Tempo Toppers. That same year, Little Richard formed a hard-driving R&B band, the Upsetters, which included drummer Charles Connor and saxophonist Wilbert "Lee Diamond" Smith and toured under Brantley's management. The Upsetters began to tour successfully, even without a bass player, forcing drummer Connor to thump "real hard" on his bass drum in order to get a "bass fiddle effect."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1952
    Age 19
    Little Richard left RCA Victor in February 1952 after his records failed to catch on.
    More Details Hide Details That same month, his father was killed after a confrontation outside his club. Little Richard, struggling with poverty, settled for work as a dishwasher for Greyhound Lines and hired Clint Brantley as his manager. He formed a band called the Tempo Toppers that year and began to perform as part of blues package tours in clubs across the south, such as Club Tijuana in New Orleans and Club Matinee in Houston.
  • 1951
    Age 18
    In 1951, Wright put Little Richard in contact with his manager, Zenas Sears, a local deejay.
    More Details Hide Details Sears recorded Little Richard at his station, backed by Wright's band. The recordings led to a contract that year with RCA Victor. Little Richard recorded a total of eight sides for RCA, including the blues ballad, "Every Hour," which became his first single and a hit in Georgia. The release of "Every Hour" improved his relationship with his father, who began regularly performing the song at his nightclub. After its release, Little Richard fronted Perry Welch and His Orchestra, playing at clubs and army bases for $100 a week. Little Richard learned how to play boogie-woogie piano from teenage musician Esquerita around this time.
  • 1950
    Age 17
    He eventually befriended Wright during an Atlanta performance in 1950.
    More Details Hide Details
    After his tenure with the band ended in 1950, Little Richard began performing for various vaudeville groups, including Sugarfoot Sam from Alabam, the Tidy Jolly Steppers, the King Brothers Circus and Broadway Follies, earning a reputation as a drag performer.
    More Details Hide Details About this time, Little Richard began listening more to R&B and frequented Atlanta clubs, where he witnessed Roy Brown and Billy Wright. Heavily influenced by Wright's flamboyant persona and showmanship, Little Richard began performing as a solo artist on the Chitlin Circuit. Little Richard gained notoriety for high-energy onstage antics during live performances.
  • 1948
    Age 15
    Because of problems at home and school and associations in the community, Little Richard left and joined Dr. Hudson's Medicine Show in 1948, performing "Caldonia".
    More Details Hide Details Little Richard recalled the song was the first secular R&B song he learned, since his family had strict rules against playing R&B music, which they considered "devil music." Little Richard soon joined his first musical band, Buster Brown's Orchestra. While performing with the band, he began using the name Little Richard.
  • 1947
    Age 14
    On October 27, 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe heard 14-year-old Little Richard singing two of her gospel recordings before her concert at Macon City Auditorium.
    More Details Hide Details Tharpe was so impressed that she invited him to sing onstage during the concert. Clint Brantley recalled that Little Richard approached him before the show, announcing that Tharpe was allowing him to open the show. Brantley, as the promoter, told him he could not. However, when the curtain lifted, Little Richard began to sing and surprised Brantley with his vocal ability. The crowd cheered, and Tharpe paid him for his performance. Little Richard was hooked on performing for a living after that. He began singing with traveling shows that came through town and was losing interest in school. He would sing to draw people to the local town prophet and spiritualist, Doctor Nubilio, who wore a turban and a colorful cape, carried a black stick and exhibited something he called "the devil's child" – the dried-up body of a baby with claw feet like a bird and horns on its head. Nubilio told Little Richard that he was "gonna be famous" but that he would have to "go where the grass is greener."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1932
    Born
    Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details He was the third eldest of the 12 children of Leva Mae (née Stewart) and Charles "Bud" Penniman. His father was a church deacon who sold bootlegged moonshine on the side and owned a nightclub, the Tip In Inn. His mother was a member of Macon's New Hope Baptist Church. Initially, Little Richard's first name was supposed to have been "Ricardo" but an error resulted in "Richard" instead. The Penniman children were raised in a neighborhood of Macon called Pleasant Hill. In childhood, he was nicknamed "Lil' Richard" by his family, because of his small and skinny frame. A mischievous child who played pranks on neighbors, Little Richard began singing in church at a young age. Possibly as a result of complications at birth, Little Richard had a slight deformity that left one of his legs shorter than the other. This produced an unusual gait; he was mocked for its allegedly effeminate appearance.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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