Saturday, May 09, 2020

R.I.P. Little Richard, December 5, 1932 - May 9, 2020.

Little Richard at the Doheny Blues Festival in 2002.
Photo courtesy of Omega Events
Very sad news today that Little Richard, one of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers has passed away. He was 87. I caught the legendary artist only once when I saw him perform in 2002 at the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point. 

A must have reissue of many of Little Richard's
greatest recordings is available via Craft Recordings/Concord Music
And I was reintroduced and gained a much greater appreciation of Richard Wayne Penniman's artistry and influence thanks to the wonderful reissue of Here's Little Richard issued by Craft Recordings/Concord Music released in 2017. This expanded edition of the album includes 22 tracks of bonus material, eight of which are previously unreleased. You can read my review of that must-have release here.

Little Richard with The Beatles
His recordings of blistering rockers such as "Long Tall Sally," "Rip It Up," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Ready Teddy," "Tutti Frutti," and "Lucille" influenced everyone from the BeatlesThe Rolling Stones and Elton John to David Bowie and Rod Stewart; his dynamic stage persona was an obvious inspiration for Prince.

Indeed, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Buddy Holly all covered his songs. Check out The Zombies' super cool cover of the deep 1958 bluesy cut "Early In The Morning" below:

Little Richard was one of the first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1986), and he also earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the GRAMMY® Awards. In 2010, Little Richard was listed as number eight in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."

"Inductee Little Richard ripped-up the Fifties," said Greg Harris, President & CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "His unrestrained musicality and charismatic persona created a rock and roll blueprint followed by generations. Songs like 'Tutti Frutti,' 'Long Tall Sally,' and 'Good Golly, Miss Molly' were amplified by Richard's rockin’ piano, rolling rhythms and an electric stage presence. His sound and style were the cornerstones of rock & roll, and his outrageousness and rebellious spirit challenged the world to change."

Ringo Starr posted this on Twitter after hearing the news: "God bless Little Richard one of my all-time musical heroes. Peace and love to all his family."

I think Mick Jagger's appreciation posted on Twitter this morning speaks volumes about Little Richard's influence: "I'm so saddened to hear about the passing of Little Richard, he was the biggest inspiration of my early teens and his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid '50s. When we were on tour with him I would watch his moves every night and learn from him how to entertain and involve the audience and he was always so generous with advice to me. He contributed so much to popular music I will miss you Richard, God bless." 

Keith Richards, left, with Little Richard. Photo courtesy of Twitter

His band mate Keith Richards reflected: "So sad to hear that my old friend Little Richard has passed. There will never be another!!! He was the true spirit on Rock 'n Roll!" 

An illustration of Little Richard by Rolling Stones
guitarist/artist Ronnie Wood that was posted today
via Wood's Twitter feed.

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood posted an original illustration he completed of Little Richard: "I shall miss him. God bless Little Richard ~ rest in peace"

Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith posted: "RIP The Incredible Little Richard, RS"

Check out a full-length appreciation about Little Richard via Rolling Stone here.

Robert Kinsler

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