Little Richard was probably the most flamboyant of the early fathers of rock and roll. Richard’s flamboyance, which usually manifested itself in colorful clothing and animated behavior, also found expression through Richard’s claims that he had invented rock and roll music. Nevertheless, he was a singer, pianist, and songwriter of the highest order, and one of the most influential figures in rock and roll history
Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in
in 1932. He started his career as an R&B singer/pianist, making his first
recording in 1951 with the single, “Taxi Blues,” for RCA. Richard recorded
several more singles before he scored his first big hit with “Tutti Fruitti” in
1955. The next year, 1956, would see Richard record a slew of hits including
the classic songs, “Long Tall Sally,” “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Ready Teddy,”
and “Rip it Up.” Macon, Georgia
In 1957, a full-length album of Richard’s songs would appear, “Here’s Little Richard,” one of the first rock album masterpieces. The album contained all of Richard’s hit singles up to that point and other fine tracks. Another classic album would follow in 1958, with “Little Richard,” featuring the classic songs, “Keep-A-Knockin,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Lucille,” and “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Richard’s popularity and fine piano chops helped to position the piano as an important instrument in early rock and roll.
In the Fifties, Richard disappeared from the pop music scene as quickly as he had appeared, turning to bible studies at a theological college. He would record only gospel music for the next four years. Little Richard eventually returned to rock and roll and is still active today.