The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

R.I.P., Little Richard

Posted on | May 9, 2020 | Comments Off on R.I.P., Little Richard


“A wop bop a loo bop a wop bam boom!”

Arguably the most exciting words in the history of music, the opening lyrics of “Tutti Frutti” announced the arrival of a bright-burning star who, in a period of two years, created the sound of rock-and-roll. You could say Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley had a larger influence, but nobody was ever more exciting than Little Richard. His falsetto whoops and earthy blues vocal style, combined with his boogie-woogie piano, highlighted a unique blend of talents by a sensational showman.

Beginning with “Tutti Frutti,” Richard Wayne Penniman rattled off a string of hits: “Long Tall Sally,” “Slippin’ and Slidin,” “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy,” “The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Lucille,” and “Jenny, Jenny,” among others. The Beatles famously covered “Long Tall Sally” as well as Little Richard’s version of “Kansas City,” and in the 1970s, I remember Johnny and Edgar Winter including “Slippin’ and Slidin” in their rock-and-roll medley. Nobody quite personified rock-and-roll as a wild and dangerous sound quite the way Little Richard did, with the sexual innuendo of his lyrics, his pompadour hairstyle and those crazy leering eyes.

R.I.P., Little Richard. Your legend lives on.



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