Little Richard

With his electrifying piano playing, flamboyant showmanship and full throttle cry of "A-wop bop-a loo bop, a-wop bam boom!", Little Richard transformed rhythm and blues into early rock'n'roll, inspiring the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and James Brown. Born on December 5th, 1932 and raised on the gospel music of his local church in Macon, Georgia, Richard Wayne Penniman played in New Orleans jazz and blues bands before adopting a sexy, frantic boogie woogie style on his breakthrough hit “Tutti Frutti”. It became a watershed track, cited by many as the birth of rock'n'roll and, alongside follow-up hits “Long Tall Sally”, “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Lucille”, has become an all-time classic. Richard quit the music industry suddenly in 1957 and became a travelling preacher, but he returned as a gospel singer a few years later and reverted to rock'n'roll while on a British tour supported by The Beatles in 1962. A divisive figure, he frequently made headlines over the course of a career spanning multiple decades, in part due to his relationship with a sixteen-year-old, his experimentation in cross-dressing and his drug and alcohol problems, but even his most vocal critics seldom disputed his role as a bona fide rock’n’roll pioneer. At 87 years of age, he lost his life to bone cancer on May 9th, 2020 in Tullahoma, Tennessee, leaving behind a plethora of prestigious accolades including honours in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Stations Featuring Little Richard

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