Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy 75th Birthday To Little Richard

Wednesday, December 5th is the 75th birthday of one of the legends of rock and roll... the one and only Little Richard. I have been a fan of his music from my days as a kid listening to oldies stations such as WHND AM 560 (Honey Radio) out of Monroe, MI. If you follow music, you are probably familiar with Little Richard's claims that he has never gotten the credit he's deserved as a rock and roll pioneer... by the way, he's RIGHT! Some people may tire of Richard tooting his own horn (or should I say pounding his own piano). But hell, should he sit idly by and wait for someone to do it for him? There is something wrong when Mr. White Buckshoes himself (Pat Boone) covers Little Richard's classic "Tutti Frutti" and has the bigger hit! Of course, Pat didn't single out Little Richard in his desecration of R&B/rock and roll (he also covered songs by Fats Domino, the El Dorados, and The Charms, just to name a few). History has righted things in some regards though. No self-respecting oldies station today is going to play Pat's covers over the original and far superior versions.

If you only know Little Richard from his recent movie and TV appearances ("Why Do Fools Fall In Love", the commercial for Geico, etc.) do yourself a favor and check out some of his music. Songs like "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Ready Teddy", and "Good Golly Miss Molly" are still some of the most exciting records to be laid to wax. I can only imagine what they sounded like back when they were recorded during the Eisenhower era.

Below is a clip of Little Richard performing his classic "Long Tall Sally" in the 1957 film "Don't Knock the Rock". He is introduced by legendary DJ Alan Freed. Also appearing in the clip is another rock and roll pioneer (Bill Haley). He is seen (seated in the center) at the 1:20 minute mark enjoying Little Richard's performance.


pjazzypar said...

The "Architect" of Rock and Roll is only 75. I don't know why, but people from that era seem a lot older (James Brown, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry) and it's probably because they have been in the public eye forever. If you think about it Richard Penniman has performed in some capacity, from the advent of Rock and Roll in the 50's to Geico commercials in the 2000's which is a total of six decades. Here's to the man "that they never gave nothing!" Happy Birthday Little Richard. I can almost hear him in a distance shouting "Shut Up!".

X. Dell said...

Little Richard's showmanship sometimes masks how great a musician he really was. I analyzed this tune about a year ago; took it apart piece by piece, transcribed it, and corrolated the parts. When you do that, you'll see how much a genius he really is.

I wish he could live another 75 years.

Malcolm: said...

Pjazzy: Of all the early rock and rollers still around, I think that Little Richard has kept the highest profile. Unfortunately, there are probably many younger people who know him strictly from his appearance in the Geico ad. Who knows though, maybe it led some of them to try to find out who that "Little Richard guy" is.

X. Dell: It's funny that you say that about Little Richard's showmanship. I don't know if you saw the doc "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll", but Eric Clapton makes a similar observation about Chuck.

I wish I had the musical acumen that you do. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to make head or tails of a tune once it's been broken down.

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