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Today, the sanctified Little Richard, the full-throttle throat of Rock!
Hear 2 massive music players, one of Richard and one of all his disciples from the 1950s to today!
Music Player quick-links:
Little Richard's disciples: 1950s-2010s
Part 1: Rip it Up!
"and rose incarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio"
-Allen Ginsberg, HOWL (1956)
All of his life one exultant declaration.
Born bonepoor Georgia, starved skinny and 'little', wanting bigger. A Deacon father -alias bootlegger -also nightclub owner. One leg shorter but always two steps ahead of his surroundings. Running with the girls and mischief and make-up, shunned by men and beaten and scorned.
Deep soul forged in smolder, singed but singing, a blues heart a gospel throat. Like a minister you must love administer, sort out the sinister, writhe out pain adorn all in light. Hear inner word, give outer voice.
Calling up the crowds via alto saxophone transmission brawk squawk bleat squee, upjump crowds, fervor nerves, pound floorboards, sweat fire, amass joy.
Opening for Sister Rosetta Tharpe at fourteen 1947 gospel chorus boy, swaying secular with swingjive tours, drag king in vaudeville and circus. Show biz early '50s, pancaked and floodlit, pizazz pulpit, the volt dynamo.
Absorbing boogie piano from Esquerita 1951, burning through record labels and blues tours and mentors. In punk spirit bands together The Upsetters blazing rhythm rock 1953.
Specialty Records 1955, New Orleans club improv "Tutti Frutti", too profane! sanitize the insane but revolution remains, a wax attack in guerilla grooves, flaming young hearts all around the world. Standing at or on piano, footloose and finally free stomping keys kicking out all divisions, integrating dancing ears hearts souls in tune A WOP BOP A LOO BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!
in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT (1956)
He wrought in Rock the androgyny the wild the theatrical the cinematic the uninhibited the omnisexual. The go-getter the upsetter the upender the offender the end of pretenders the blender. Bane to klan and The Man and the ban and the banal, bane to the youth and the uncouth and tall-taling upscaling of the truth.
Feral firebrand become consumptive fireball "Good Golly, Miss Molly/ You sure like to ball!" coming apart in a carnality carnivale. Best-dressed on the excess express deranged duressed unrest need blest. 18 hits three years on a ripping tear unabashed, a canon fired from circus cannons, a fastblast era moving too fast to control all a blearing smear a coming crash.
He saw the fireball in the sky above (1957 Sputnick), he saw the ministry as a grounding. Felt he'd lost God for gold, threw away his rings and his royalties in sacral loyalty, the man who fell to earth to reach out to heaven.
All of his life one exultant declaration.
Part 2: All Around The World! The Disciples of Little Richard
LITTLE RICHARD: Disciples
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)
"It was if, in a single instant, the world changed from monochrome to Technicolor."
-Keith Richards, on hearing "Tutti Frutti"
And the Rock faithful heard the word horde and saw the floodlights.
Little Richard, the bedrock of their bedlam, canon of their carols, artisan of their attitude, the verve of their voice.
Ray Charles and Little Richard seduced gospel stars to secular soul like Sam Cooke, the Womacks, Johnny Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Al Green (and like him they swayed back and forth).
He is the jump and grit of James Brown and Otis Redding. His shattering shout is the voice of Garage Rock and Punk and Metal.
His early '60s second coming galvanized The Beatles in Hamburg (who befriended his organist, Billy Preston). The Rolling Stones were his amen chorus opening for him in '63. Jimi Hendrix was his harpist in '64 ("I Don't Know What You Got"). His songs were the psalms of the British Invasion.
As Rock went roots and rough in the late 60's, his third coming graced the festival circuit with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, a revival that will summon Glam and Pub Rock and Punk and Psychobilly.
His paint-peeling howl possesses Etta James, James Brown, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Otis Redding, The Sonics, Wilson Pickett, Jim Morrison, The Outcast (Japan), Creedence Clearwater Revival, MC5, Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, Motorhead, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, Barrence Whitfield, The Lime Spiders, Tom Waits, The A-Bones, Guitar Wolf, and Alexis Saski.
His world ministry amens in Los Teen Tops' "La Plaga" and Los Gibson Boys' "Lucila" (Mexico) and The Black Dynamites' "Send Me Some Lovin'" (Netherlands) and Masaaki Hirao's "Lucille" (Japan) and Moustique's "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (France) and Adriano Celentano's performance of "Ready Teddy" in Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA (1960).
His pagentry, Pancake 31, and punch is the creator of Glam Rock and New Romantic, his theatre a launching stage for Bowie and Freddie and Suzi and Siouxsie and Lou and Jayne.
His erotic ambiguity and androgyne edge sired Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Boy George, Prince, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae.
His "Ooh! My Soul" begat Ritchie Havens' "Ooh! My Head" which begat Led Zeppelin's "Boogie With Stu". His spin on "Keep A-Knockin'" begat Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" and the intro drums of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll". His canon begat Deep Purple's "Speed King".
His spirit catalyzed The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There", "I'm Down", and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"; and CCR's "Travelin' Band"; and The Rolling Stone's "Rip This Joint"; and Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting"; and Bob Seger's anthem "Old Time Rock and Roll". Listen anew.
His "The Rill Thing" begat the drum samples on 60 hiphop songs alone.
His fourth comeback after a bestselling bio in the '80s led him to new music, talk shows, and Fishbone and Living Colour.
His "Tutti Frutti" was voted #1 in Mojo's "The Top 100 Records That Changed The World".
Yes, verily, to all and whom,
A WOP BOP A LOO BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!
© Tym Stevens
(except Ginsberg's "Howl")
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1950s PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!
CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples
BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples
BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples
JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street