"There could not have been a Michael Jackson if there has not been a Little Richard."
"a contemporary pop rebel like Prince seems like small potatoes compared with Little Richard, the original wild man of rock n roll."
Little Richard the originator, the emancipator, the architect of rock and roll. Exploring into the American consciousness in the mid – 50s "awop-bop-a-loo-mop-alop-bam-boom" he single handily laid the foundation and established the rules for a new musical form: rock and roll.
Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, the third of fourteen children, Richard Wayne Penniman began singing in his local church choir while still a youngster. He signed with RCA Records in 1951 after winning a talent contest and released two singles – neither receiving prominent notice.
Returning to his job washing dishes in a Greyhound bus station, Richard sent a demo to Specialty Records, a fledging Los Angeles label. The song, "Tutti Frutti," was his catalyst for success and led to an uninterrupted run of smash hits that included "Long Tall Sally," "Rip It Up," "Lucille," "Jenny Jenny," "Keep A Knockin," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Ooh! My Soul." By 1968, Little Richard has sold over 32 million records internationally.
A self-imposed hiatus took Richard out of the industry spotlight, but never out of the consciousness of the legions of fans around the world, who confidently awaited his return.
In 1985, Richard charged back stronger than ever, scoring rave reviews for his memorable appearance in the 1985 box office smash "Down and Out In Beverly Hills," a film which also launched his hit single, "Great Gosh A Mighty." He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and launched into a pattern of work which has been virtually non-stop, encompassing not only recording, but television, film, soundtracks, and commercials that include: "Martin," "Full House," "Miami Vice," "The 60th Annual Academy Awards," his duet with Philip Bailey for Universals motion picture "Twins," back ground vocals on the U2/BB King hit single "When Love Comes To Town," television pitch man for "Taco Bell," "McDonalds," "Amiga Computers," and Revlons "Charlie" perfume in which he starred with Cindy Crawford.
His performance of rock n roll version of the childrens tune, "Itsy Bitsy Spider," was a stand-out track on the star studded Disney Records benefit album, "For Our Children."
The record went gold and earned millions for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an organization he continues to support. Disney followed up with "Shake It All About," an entire album of childrens songs redone by Richard in a style that is his alone. From his portrayal of a rock n roll Old King Cole in Shelley Duvalls "Mother Goose Rock n Rhyme," to his recent "Sesame Street" appearance and spot on the upcoming Henson Records album "Kermit Unplugged (on which he guests on the all-star song and video for a remake of "She Drives Me Crazy"), Richard has garnered a new generation of fans.
Richard was honored with a star on the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. Soon afterward, he returned to his hometown of Macon for the unveiling of "Little Richard Penniman Boulevard." In 1993, he received the long-overdue Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He also performed for rock nroll fans Bill Clinton and Al Gore at one of the biggest parties in Washington – the inaugural gala.
Richard has also received the Rhythm & Blues Foundations prestigious Pioneer Award and appeared on Elton Johns "Duets" album and is featured on a high-octane duet of "Something Else" with Tanya Tucker on the platinum MAC Records release "Rhythm, Country & Blues.
Driven by an incredible, hard to match energy which lends credence to his "wild man of rock n roll" image, Richard continues to tour extensively, delighting audiences with his unique blend of music and humor.
"Entertaining is a way to spread joy," Richard says. "Ive come to terms with that and with myself. Youve got to do that before you can begin to help others."
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