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RICHARD WAYNE PENNIMAN (born December 5, 1932), known as LITTLE RICHARD, is an American musician, singer and songwriter.

An influential figure in popular music and culture for more than six decades, Little Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll . His music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk . Little Richard
Little Richard
influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop ; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come, and his performances and headline-making thrust his career right into the mix of American popular music.

Little Richard
Little Richard
has been honored by many institutions. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
as part of its first group of inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame . He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm
Rhythm
and Blues
Blues
Foundation . Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti " (1955) was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated that his "unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music." In 2015, the National Museum of African American Music honored Little Richard
Little Richard
with a Rhapsody he was mocked for his allegedly effeminate appearance.

Little Richard's family was very religious, joining various A.M.E. , Baptist
Baptist
and Pentecostal
Pentecostal
churches, with some family members becoming ministers. Little Richard
Little Richard
enjoyed the Pentecostal
Pentecostal
churches the most, because of their charismatic worship and live music. He later recalled that people in his neighborhood during segregation sang gospel songs throughout the day to keep a positive outlook, because "there was so much poverty, so much prejudice in those days". He had observed that people sang "to feel their connection with God" and to wash their trials and burdens away. Gifted with a loud singing voice, Little Richard
Little Richard
recalled that he was "always changing the key upwards" and that they once stopped him from singing in church for "screaming and hollering" so loud, earning him the nickname "War Hawk".

Little Richard's initial musical influences were gospel performers such as Brother Joe May , Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
, Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams . May, who as a singing evangelist was known as "the Thunderbolt of the Middle West" because of his phenomenal range and vocal power, inspired the boy to become a preacher. Little Richard attended Macon's Hudson High School , where he was a below-average student. His musical talent, however, was recognized there when he learned to play the alto saxophone . His mother recalled how Richard was "always musical" and that when he was young, he would always "beat on the steps of the house, and on tin cans and pots and pans, or whatever", while singing. She also recalled that Richard was so quick at learning to play the saxophone, that he was allowed to play with the school's marching band immediately. While in high school, Little Richard obtained a part-time job at Macon City Auditorium for local secular and gospel concert promoter Clint Brantley. Little Richard sold Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola
to crowds during concerts of star performers of the day, such as Cab Calloway , Lucky Millinder and his favorite singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
.

MUSIC CAREER

BEGINNINGS (1947–1955)

On October 27, 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
heard 14-year-old Little Richard singing two of her gospel recordings before her concert at Macon City Auditorium. Tharpe was so impressed that she invited him to sing onstage during the concert. Clint Brantley recalled that Little Richard approached him before the show, announcing that Tharpe was allowing him to open the show. Brantley, as the promoter, told him he could not. However, when the curtain lifted, Little Richard
Little Richard
began to sing and surprised Brantley with his vocal ability. The crowd cheered, and Tharpe paid him for his performance. Little Richard
Little Richard
was hooked on performing for a living after that. He began singing with traveling shows that came through town and was losing interest in school. He would sing to draw people to the local town prophet and spiritualist, Doctor Nubilio, who wore a turban and a colorful cape, carried a black stick and exhibited something he called "the devil's child" – the dried-up body of a baby with claw feet like a bird and horns on its head. Nubilio told Little Richard
Little Richard
that he was "gonna be famous" but that he would have to "go where the grass is greener." Because of problems at home and school and associations in the community, Little Richard left and joined Dr. Hudson's Medicine Show in 1948, performing " Caldonia ". Little Richard
Little Richard
recalled the song was the first secular R&B song he learned, since his family had strict rules against playing R&B music, which they considered "devil music." Little Richard
Little Richard
soon joined his first musical band, Buster Brown's Orchestra. While performing with the band, he began using the name Little Richard. After his tenure with the band ended in 1950, Little Richard
Little Richard
began performing for various vaudeville groups, including Sugarfoot Sam from Alabam, the Tidy Jolly Steppers, the King Brothers Circus and Broadway Follies, earning a reputation as a drag performer . About this time, Little Richard
Little Richard
began listening more to R&B and frequented Atlanta clubs, where he witnessed Roy Brown and Billy Wright . Heavily influenced by Wright's flamboyant persona and showmanship, Little Richard began performing as a solo artist on the Chitlin Circuit . Little Richard
Little Richard
gained notoriety for high-energy onstage antics during live performances. He eventually befriended Wright during an Atlanta performance in 1950.

In 1951, Wright put Little Richard
Little Richard
in contact with his manager, Zenas Sears, a local deejay . Sears recorded Little Richard
Little Richard
at his station, backed by Wright's band. The recordings led to a contract that year with RCA Victor . Little Richard
Little Richard
recorded a total of eight sides for RCA, including the blues ballad, "Every Hour," which became his first single and a hit in Georgia. The release of "Every Hour" improved his relationship with his father, who began regularly playing the song on his nightclub jukebox. After its release, Little Richard
Little Richard
fronted Perry Welch and His Orchestra, playing at clubs and army bases for $100 a week. Little Richard
Little Richard
learned how to play boogie-woogie piano from teenage musician Esquerita around this time. Little Richard
Little Richard
left RCA Victor in February 1952 after his records failed to catch on. That same month, his father was killed after a confrontation outside his club. Little Richard, struggling with poverty, settled for work as a dishwasher for Greyhound Lines and hired Clint Brantley as his manager. He formed a band called the Tempo
Tempo
Toppers that year and began to perform as part of blues package tours in clubs across the south, such as Club Tijuana in New Orleans and Club Matinee in Houston. With the Tempo
Tempo
Toppers, Little Richard
Little Richard
signed with Don Robey 's Peacock Records in February 1953, recording eight sides, including four with Johnny Otis and his band that were unreleased at the time. Little Richard
Little Richard
had a contentious relationship with Robey and soon found himself disenchanted with the record business and with his group, leaving Peacock and disbanding the Tempo
Tempo
Toppers. That same year, Little Richard
Little Richard
formed a hard-driving R&B band, the Upsetters, which included drummer Charles Connor and saxophonist Wilbert "Lee Diamond" Smith and toured under Brantley's management. The Upsetters began to tour successfully, even without a bass player, forcing drummer Connor to thump "real hard" on his bass drum in order to get a "bass fiddle effect."

At the suggestion of Lloyd Price , Little Richard
Little Richard
sent a two-song demo to Price's label, Specialty Records , in February 1955. Time passed before Little Richard
Little Richard
got a call to record for the label. Art Rupe , owner of Specialty Records, loaned Little Richard
Little Richard
money to buy out his Peacock contract and set him up to work with producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell . Upon hearing the demo, Blackwell felt Little Richard was Specialty's answer to Ray Charles . Little Richard
Little Richard
told Blackwell he preferred the sound of Fats Domino
Fats Domino
. As a result, Little Richard began recording at Cosimo Matassa 's J clear: right; margin: 0.5em 0 0.8em 1.4em; width:20%; padding: 10px; border: 1px solid #aaa; font-size: 88%; background-color: #F9F9F9;"> A lot of songs I sang to crowds first to watch their reaction. That's how I knew they'd hit. Little Richard
Little Richard

"Tutti Frutti" became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on _Billboard _ magazine's Rhythm
Rhythm
and Blues
Blues
Best-Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the United States
United States
and overseas in the United Kingdom. It reached No. 17 on the _Billboard_ Top 100 in America and No. 29 on the British singles chart, eventually selling a million copies.

Little Richard's next hit single, " Long Tall Sally
Long Tall Sally
" (1956), became his first to reach No. 1 on the R"> "Good Golly, Miss Molly", 45 rpm recording on Specialty Records

Little Richard's success made him a millionaire and, in late 1956, he settled in Los Angeles, purchasing a mansion in a wealthy section of the city, where he lived next door to boxer Joe Louis
Joe Louis
. In May 1957, Specialty Records released Little Richard's first album, which contained six single recordings that had already been hits on the charts. _Here\'s Little Richard
Little Richard
_, which reached No. 13 on the _Billboard_ Top LPs chart, then a rare feat for a rock and roll artist.

In October 1957, Little Richard
Little Richard
embarked on a package tour in Australia with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran . During the middle of the tour, he shocked the public by announcing his decision to follow a life in the ministry . Little Richard
Little Richard
later explained that during a flight from Melbourne to Sydney that he had seen the plane's red hot engines and felt angels were holding it up. During the Sydney performance, Little Richard
Little Richard
saw a bright red fireball flying across the sky above him and was deeply shaken. He took the event, later revealed as the launching of the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1 , as a sign from God to repent from performing secular music and his wild lifestyle and enter the ministry. Returning to the states ten days early, Little Richard
Little Richard
later learned that his original return flight had crashed into the Pacific Ocean solidifying his belief he was doing as God wanted. After a performance at the Apollo Theater and a recording session with Specialty later that month, Little Richard
Little Richard
enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama , to study theology. Fueling his decision to leave the music business was Little Richard's feeling that he hadn't received proper remuneration from Specialty. Upon ending his contract with Specialty in 1959, Little Richard
Little Richard
reluctantly agreed to relinquish any royalties for his material. In 1958, he formed the Little Richard
Little Richard
Evangelistic Team, traveling across the country to preach. A month after his conversion, while speaking at an evangelical convention in November 1957, Little Richard met Ernestine Campbell, a secretary from Washington, D.C. He married her on July 11, 1959.

Around this time, Little Richard
Little Richard
began recording gospel for George Goldner's End Records, traveling to New York City
New York City
to record 19 traditional gospel tunes (one a new song written by Maybelle Jackson called "I'm Quitting Show Business "), yielding a couple of singles and a barrage of low-budget albums. He signed with Mercury Records and had some chart success with songs such as "He's Not Just a Soldier" and "He Got What He Wanted", which reached the top 40 in the UK.

Childhood heroine Mahalia Jackson acknowledged his gospel efforts after hearing him sing in the early 1960s at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles. After working with Little Richard
Little Richard
on the Mercury album _King of the Gospel Singers_, Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
remarked in 1984 that his performance in the studio impressed him more than any other artist with whom he had worked.

RETURN TO SECULAR MUSIC (1962–1979)

I heard so much about the audience reaction, I thought there must be some exaggeration. But it was all true. He drove the whole house into a complete frenzy ... I couldn't believe the power of Little Richard onstage. He was amazing. Mick Jagger

In 1962, concert promoter Don Arden
Don Arden
persuaded Little Richard
Little Richard
to tour Europe after telling him his records were still selling well there. Arden booked him as the headline artist, with Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
second on the bill. Little Richard, thinking it was a gospel tour, performed gospel material at the first show and received a tepid response (Cooke did not open that show, as he was delayed in arriving). After Cooke opened the second show, with vigorous applause from the crowd, Little Richard and his organist Billy Preston warmed up in darkness before launching into "Long Tall Sally", resulting in hysterical responses. Little Richard's shows received similar responses wherever he performed, including a show at Mansfield
Mansfield
's Granada Theatre, which closed early after fans rushed the stage. Wanting to capitalize on these headline-grabbing performances, Brian Epstein , the manager of the Beatles , asked Little Richard
Little Richard
and Arden to allow his newly recorded band to open for Little Richard
Little Richard
on some tour dates, to which they agreed. The first show for which the Beatles opened was at New Brighton 's Tower Ballroom that October. The following month, they opened for Little Richard
Little Richard
at the Star Club in Hamburg . During this time, Little Richard
Little Richard
advised the group on how to perform his songs and taught Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
his distinctive vocalizations . Back in the U.S., Little Richard
Little Richard
recorded six rock and roll songs with the Upsetters for Little Star Records , under the name "World Famous Upsetters", allowing him to keep his options open in the ministry.

Little Richard
Little Richard
returned to the UK the following fall, with The Rolling Stones as openers. At the end of that tour, he starred in his own special, _The Little Richard
Little Richard
Spectacular_, for Granada Television . The special became a ratings success and was rebroadcast twice, after over 60,000 fan letters had been received. Footage of the special was shown around the world, highlighting the frenzy associated with rock and roll. In 1964, Little Richard
Little Richard
returned briefly to Specialty and recorded five songs, including the charted single, "Bama Lama Bama Loo", which reached the top 20 in the UK but only number 82 in the US. Later that year, he signed with Vee-Jay Records and issued the album _ Little Richard
Little Richard
Is Back _. The album failed to catch on domestically, despite a televised performance of the single "Whole Lotta Shakin\' Goin\' On " on _ Shindig! _ that drew wild responses from audience members. By September 1964, Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
, known to Richard as Maurice James, had joined the Upsetters band, as a full member. In December, Jimi and some '50s band members joined Richard in New York for a session of remakes. The most successful collaboration between Little Richard
Little Richard
and Hendrix came in the following year, also in New York, when Hendrix, Billy Preston, and Little Richard recorded the soul ballad "I Don't Know What You've Got (But It's Got Me)", which became a number 12 R the first being a studio album, _ The Explosive Little Richard _, which generated the modest hit singles "Poor Dog" and "Commandments of Love", plus an acclaimed non charter, "(You're My Girl) I don't want to Discuss It", fully contemporary in the upbeat Motown style, later covered by Delaney and Bonnie, Rhinoceros, and Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
; and the second, _Little Richard\'s Greatest Hits: Recorded Live! _, decried by the man himself but which returned him to the pop album charts for the first time in ten years and also hit number 28 on the Hot R"> Little Richard
Little Richard
in 1967

Little Richard
Little Richard
struggled when he returned to secular music in the 1960s. He often complained to producers in the 1960s that he felt unappreciated as producers pushed him towards a horn-oriented Motown sound and felt he wasn't treated with appropriate respect. Little Richard often performed in dingy clubs and lounges with little support from his label. Little Richard
Little Richard
adapted a wilder flamboyant and androgynous image that, while a hit with club audiences, was a problem for labels attempting to promote him to conservative R he did the same to headliner John Lennon
John Lennon
at the Toronto Pop Festival. These successes brought Little Richard
Little Richard
to talk shows such as the _Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson _ and the _ Dick Cavett Show _, making him a major celebrity again.

Little Richard
Little Richard
signed with Reprise Records in 1970, releasing the album _ The Rill Thing _, which included the chart-making singles "Freedom Blues" and "Greenwood, Mississippi". His follow-ups for Reprise failed to produce similar success, and He spent much of the decade performing as a guest instrumentalist / vocalist on sessions with rockers such as Delaney and Bonnie , Joey Covington and Joe Walsh . The sessions for Canned Heat
Canned Heat
's "Rockin' with the King" (1972) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive 's "Take It Like a Man" (1976) resulted in chart successes. Little Richard
Little Richard
and three of his brothers formed a management company, Bud Hole Incorporated, around this time. In 1973, Richard made a spectacular contribution to the critically acclaimed documentary "Let The Good Times Roll", and he was given a full album side in a two-disc soundtrack album from the film, which charted. Leaving Reprise, that same year, he charted for independent labels, including Green Mountain Records, for which he recorded "In the Middle of the Night"; the proceeds were donated to victims charity of tornadoes that had caused damage in 12 states. In 1976, the Mainstream Records single "Call My Name" was distributed by Motown but never got past regional hit status. That same year, Little Richard re-recorded 18 of his classic hits in Nashville for K-Tel Records , in high tech. stereo recreations, with a single featuring new versions of "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Rip It Up" reaching the UK singles chart . Following over five years of drug and alcohol abuse and a string of recent personal tragedies, Little Richard
Little Richard
quit rock and roll music again in 1977 and returned to evangelism, releasing one gospel album, _God\'s Beautiful City _, in 1979.

COMEBACK (1984–1999)

In 1984, Little Richard
Little Richard
filed a $112 million lawsuit against Specialty Records ; Art Rupe and his publishing company, Venice Music; and ATV Music for not paying royalties to him after he left the label in 1959. The suit was settled out of court in 1986. According to some reports, Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
gave Little Richard
Little Richard
monetary compensation from his work when he co-owned (with Sony-ATV) songs by the Beatles and Little Richard. In 1985, Charles White released Little Richard's authorized biography, _Quasar of Rock: The Life and Times of Little Richard_, which returned Little Richard
Little Richard
to the spotlight. Little Richard
Little Richard
returned to show business in what _Rolling Stone _ would refer to as a "formidable comeback" following the book's release. Little Richard, interviewed during the 60th Annual Academy Awards, 1988

Reconciling his roles as evangelist and rock and roll musician for the first time, Little Richard
Little Richard
stated that the genre could be used for good or evil. After accepting a role in the film _Down and Out in Beverly Hills _, Little Richard
Little Richard
and Billy Preston penned the faith-based rock and roll song "Great Gosh A'Mighty" for its soundtrack. Little Richard
Little Richard
won critical acclaim for his film role, and the song found success on the American and British charts. The hit led to the release of the album _ Lifetime Friend _ (1986) on Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
, with songs deemed "messages in rhythm", including a gospel rap track. In addition to a version of "Great Gosh A'Mighty", cut in England, the album featured two singles that charted in the UK, "Somebody's Comin'" and "Operator". Little Richard
Little Richard
spent much of the rest of the decade as a guest on TV shows and appearing in films, winning new fans with what was referred to as his "unique comedic timing". In 1989, Little Richard
Little Richard
provided rhythmic preaching and background vocals on the extended live version of the U2 –B.B. King hit " When Love Comes to Town ". That same year, Little Richard returned to singing his classic hits following a performance of "Lucille" at an AIDS benefit concert.

In 1990, Little Richard
Little Richard
contributed a spoken-word rap on Living Colour 's hit song, " Elvis Is Dead ", from their album _Time\'s Up _. The following year, he was one of the featured performers on the hit single and video " Voices That Care " that was produced to help boost the morale of U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm . He also recorded a rock and roll version of " The Itsy Bitsy Spider " that year that led to a deal with Disney Records , resulting in the release of a hit 1992 children\'s album , _Shake It All About _. Throughout the 1990s, Little Richard
Little Richard
performed around the world and appeared on TV, film, and tracks with other artists, including Jon Bon Jovi , Elton John and Solomon Burke . In 1992, yet another album of remakes was released, this time with Richard and Japanese guitar hero, Takanaka. Included in the band were swamp guitarist Travis Wammack and his drummer son Monkee, members of Richard's then current touring band.

LATER YEARS (2000–PRESENT)

In 2000, Little Richard's life was dramatized for the biographical film _ Little Richard
Little Richard
_, which focused on his early years, including his heyday, his religious conversion and his return to secular music in the early 1960s. Little Richard
Little Richard
was played by Leon , who earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance in this role. In 2002, Little Richard
Little Richard
contributed to the Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
tribute album , _Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
_. In 2006, Little Richard
Little Richard
was featured in a popular advertisement for the GEICO brand. A 2005 recording of his duet vocals with Jerry Lee Lewis on a cover of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" was included on Lewis's 2006 album, _Last Man Standing _. The same year, Little Richard was a guest judge on the TV series _ Celebrity Duets _. Little Richard and Lewis performed alongside John Fogerty
John Fogerty
at the 2008 Grammy Awards in a tribute to the two artists considered to be cornerstones of rock and roll by the NARAS . That same year, Little Richard appeared on radio host Don Imus ' benefit album for sick children, _The Imus Ranch Record_. In June 2010, Little Richard
Little Richard
recorded a gospel track for an upcoming tribute album to songwriting legend Dottie Rambo .

Towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, _Rolling Stone_ reported that Little Richard
Little Richard
remained "one of the most recognized and quotable celebrities in the world." Throughout the decade, he kept up a stringent touring schedule, performing primarily in the United States
United States
and Europe. However, sciatic nerve pain in his left leg and then replacement of the involved hip began affecting the frequency of his performances by 2010. Despite his health problems, Little Richard
Little Richard
continued to receive critical acclaim for his performances. _Rolling Stone_ reported that at a performance at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., in June 2012, Little Richard
Little Richard
was "still full of fire, still a master showman, his voice still loaded with deep gospel and raunchy power." Little Richard
Little Richard
performed a full 90-minute show at the Pensacola Interstate Fair in Pensacola, Florida , in October 2012, at the age of 79, and headlined at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas during Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend in March 2013.

In 2014, actor Brandon Mychal Smith won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Little Richard
Little Richard
in the James Brown biographical drama film _Get on Up _. Mick Jagger co-produced the motion picture. In June 2015, Little Richard
Little Richard
appeared before a paying audience, clad in sparkly boots and a brightly colored jacket at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville to receive the Rhapsody & Rhythm
Rhythm
Award from and raise funds for the National Museum of African American Music. It was reported that he charmed the crowd by reminiscing about his early days working in Nashville nightclubs. In May 2016, the National Museum of African American Music issued a press release indicating that Little Richard was one of the key artists and music industry leaders that attended its 3rd annual Celebration of Legends Lucheon & Red Carpet in Nashville honoring Shirley Caesar , Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff with Rhapsody Robinson denied those claims. After Richard's religious conversion, the two friends lost contact. Robinson later became a stripper using the name Lee Angel. After reconnecting with Richard in the 1960s, Robinson feared being close to Richard again, due to their contrasting lifestyles. Robinson and Little Richard
Little Richard
have remained close friends.

Little Richard
Little Richard
met his only wife, Ernestine Campbell, at an evangelical rally in October 1957. They began dating that year and wed in July 1959. According to Campbell, she and Little Richard
Little Richard
initially enjoyed a happy marriage with "normal" sexual relations. Campbell claimed when the marriage ended in divorce in 1963, it was due to Little Richard's celebrity status, noting that it had made life difficult for her. Little Richard
Little Richard
claimed the marriage fell apart due to him being a neglectful husband and his sexuality. Richard claimed that neither Robinson nor Campbell thought he was gay because he was "such a pumper in those days". While married, in 1962, Little Richard adopted a one-year-old boy, Danny Jones, from a late church associate. Little Richard
Little Richard
and his son remain close, with Jones often acting as one of his bodyguards.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Little Richard
Little Richard
stated that as a child, he only played with girls and felt feminine, which was the source of jokes and homophobic ridicule at his expense. Caught wearing his mother's makeup and wardrobe at times, he was brutally punished by his father. He began having sexual encounters with boys by his teen years and also occasionally had sex with older women. Because of his effeminate mannerisms, his father kicked him out of their family home at 15. As Richard later explained in 2010, "my daddy put me out of the house. He said he wanted seven boys, and I had spoiled it, because I was gay." He first became involved in voyeurism in his early twenties, when a female friend would drive him around and pick up men who would allow him to watch them have sex in the backseat of cars. He was once arrested after a gas station attendant in Macon reported sexual activity in a car featuring Little Richard
Little Richard
and a couple. Cited on a sexual misconduct charge, he spent three days in jail and was temporarily banned from performing in Macon, Georgia .

During the early 1950s, Little Richard
Little Richard
had appeared as a drag performer in various vaudeville groups. By the time he entered the Chitlin Circuit , he began using makeup regularly, influenced by Billy Wright , who recommended his brand of makeup to him, Pancake 31. Later, as he began experiencing success in the mid-1950s, he made members of his band use makeup as a means to gain entry into white clubs during performances. He later told a columnist, "I wore the make-up so that white men wouldn't think I was after the white girls. It made things easier for me, plus it was colorful too." In 2000, Richard told _JET _, "I figure if being called a sissy would make me famous, let them say what they want to." Though he was gay, Little Richard recalled female fans sending him naked photos and their phone numbers.

While attending Oakwood College, Richard recalled a male student exposed himself to him. After the incident was reported to the student's father, Little Richard
Little Richard
withdrew from the college. In 1962, he was again arrested after he was caught spying on men urinating at men's toilets at a Trailways bus station in Long Beach, California . Richard returned to participating in sexual orgies after his return to secular music in the 1960s. In 1984, while he claimed homosexuality was "unnatural" and "contagious", he would tell Charles White that he was "omnisexual " after he was asked about his sex life. In 1995, Little Richard
Little Richard
told _Penthouse _ that he always knew he was gay, saying "I've been gay all my life". In 2007, Mojo Magazine referred to Little Richard
Little Richard
as "bisexual".

DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE

Little Richard
Little Richard
was allegedly a heavy drinker and cigarette smoker during the mid-1960s. By 1972, he was using cocaine , developing an addiction to the drug. He later lamented during that period, "they should have called me Little Cocaine, I was sniffing so much of that stuff!" He got addicted to heroin and PCP around that same period. Of his drug experiences, he said "I lost my reasoning". He said of his cocaine addiction that he did whatever he could to use cocaine. Little Richard
Little Richard
admitted that his addiction to cocaine and heroin was costing him as much as $1,000 a day. In 1977, longtime friend Larry Williams once showed up with a gun and threatened to kill Little Richard for failing to pay his drug debt. Little Richard
Little Richard
later mentioned that this was the most fearful moment of his life because Williams's own drug addiction made him wildly unpredictable. Little Richard did, however, also acknowledge that he and Williams were "very close friends" and when reminiscing of the drug-fueled clash, he recalled thinking "I knew he loved me – I hoped he did." Within that same year, Little Richard
Little Richard
had several devastating personal experiences, including his brother Tony's death of a heart attack, the accidental shooting of his nephew that he loved like a son, and the murder of two close personal friends – one a valet at "the heroin man's house." The combination of these experiences convinced Little Richard to give up drugs and alcohol, along with rock and roll, and return to the ministry.

RELIGION

Little Richard's family had deep evangelical ( Baptist
Baptist
and African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)) Christian roots, including two uncles and a grandfather who were preachers. Little Richard
Little Richard
also took part in Macon's Pentecostal
Pentecostal
churches, which were his favorites mainly due to their music, charismatic praise, dancing in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues . At age 10, influenced by Pentecostalism, Little Richard would go around saying he was a faith healer , singing gospel music to people who were feeling sick and touching them. He later recalled that they would often indicate that they felt better after he prayed for them and would sometimes give him money. Little Richard had aspirations of being a preacher due to the influence of singing evangelist Brother Joe May.

After he was born again in 1957, Little Richard
Little Richard
enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, a mostly black Seventh-day Adventist college, to study theology. Little Richard
Little Richard
returned to secular music in the early 1960s. He was eventually ordained a minister in 1970, and again resumed evangelical activities in 1977. Little Richard represented Memorial Bibles International and sold their Black Heritage Bible, which highlighted the Book's many black characters. As a preacher, Little Richard
Little Richard
evangelized in small churches and packed auditoriums of 20,000 or more. His preaching focused on uniting the races and bringing lost souls to repentance through God's love. In 1984, Little Richard's mother, Leva Mae, died following a period of illness. Only a few months prior to her death, Little Richard
Little Richard
promised her that he would remain a Christian.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Little Richard
Little Richard
officiated at celebrity weddings. In 2006, Little Richard
Little Richard
wedded twenty couples who won a contest in one ceremony. The musician used his experience and knowledge as a minister and elder statesman of rock and roll to preach at funerals of musical friends such as Wilson Pickett and Ike Turner . At a benefit concert in 2009 to raise funds to help rebuild children's playgrounds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina , Little Richard asked guest of honor Fats Domino
Fats Domino
to pray with him and others. His assistants handed out inspirational booklets at the concert—a common practice at Little Richard's shows. He somberly told a Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. audience in June 2012, "I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord. The world is getting close to the end. Get close to the Lord." In 2013, Little Richard
Little Richard
elaborated on his spiritual philosophies, stating "God talked to me the other night. He said He's getting ready to come. The world's getting ready to end and He's coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around his throne." _Rolling Stone_ reported his apocalyptic prophesies generated snickers from some audience members as well as cheers of support. Little Richard
Little Richard
responded by stating: "When I talk to you about , I'm not playing. I'm almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn't be here."

HEALTH PROBLEMS

In October 1985, Little Richard
Little Richard
returned to the United States
United States
from England, where he had finished recording his album _ Lifetime Friend _, to film a guest spot on the show, _ Miami Vice _. Following the taping, he accidentally crashed his sports car into a telephone pole in West Hollywood, California . He suffered a broken right leg, broken ribs and head and facial injuries. His recovery from the accident took several months. His accident prevented him from being able to attend the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
ceremony in January 1986 where he was one of several inductees. He instead supplied a recorded message.

In 2007, Little Richard
Little Richard
was having problems walking due to sciatica in his left leg, requiring him to use crutches. In November 2009, he entered a hospital to have replacement surgery on his left hip. Despite returning to performance the following year, Little Richard's problems with his hip continued and he has since been brought onstage by wheelchair . He has told fans that his surgery has his hip "breaking inside" and refuses to have further work on it.

On September 30, 2013, he revealed to CeeLo Green at a Recording Academy fundraiser that he had suffered a heart attack at his home the week prior and stated he used aspirin and had his son turn the air conditioner on, which his doctor confirmed had saved his life. Little Richard stated, "Jesus had something for me. He brought me through".

On April 28, 2016, Little Richard's friend, Bootsy Collins stated on his Facebook page that, "he is not in the best of health so I ask all the Funkateers to lift him up." Reports subsequently began being published on the internet stating that Little Richard
Little Richard
was in grave health and that his family were gathering at his bedside. On May 3, 2016, _Rolling Stone_ reported that Little Richard
Little Richard
and his lawyer provided a health information update in which Richard stated, "not only is my family not gathering around me because I'm ill, but I'm still singing. I don't perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I'm healthy.'" His lawyer also reported: "He's 83. I don't know how many 83-year-olds still get up and rock it out every week, but in light of the rumors, I wanted to tell you that he's vivacious and conversant about a ton of different things and he's still very active in a daily routine. I used to represent Prince and he just engaged me in all kinds of Prince conversations, calling him a 'creative genius.'"

LEGACY

MUSIC

He claims to be "the architect of rock and roll", and history would seem to bear out Little Richard's boast. More than any other performer – save, perhaps, Elvis Presley, Little Richard
Little Richard
blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as "Tutti Frutti ", " Long Tall Sally
Long Tall Sally
" and " Good Golly, Miss Molly " defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll. — Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Little Richard's music and performance style had a pivotal effect on the shape of the sound and style of popular music genres of the 20th century. As a rock and roll pioneer, Little Richard
Little Richard
embodied its spirit more flamboyantly than any other performer. Little Richard's raspy shouting style gave the genre one of its most identifiable and influential vocal sounds and his fusion of boogie-woogie, New Orleans R&B and gospel music blazed its rhythmic trail.

Combining elements of boogie, gospel , and blues , Little Richard introduced several of rock music 's most characteristic musical features, including its loud volume and vocal style emphasizing power, and its distinctive beat and rhythm . He departed from boogie-woogie 's shuffle rhythm and introduced a new distinctive rock beat, where the beat division is even at all tempos . He reinforced the new rock rhythm with a two-handed approach, playing patterns with his right hand, with the rhythm typically popping out in the piano's high register . His new rhythm, which he introduced with "Tutti Frutti " (1955), became the basis for the standard rock beat, which was later consolidated by Chuck Berry . "Lucille " (1957) foreshadowed the rhythmic feel of 1960s classic rock in several ways, including its heavy bassline , slower tempo, strong rock beat played by the entire band, and verse–chorus form similar to blues.

Little Richard's voice was able to generate croons, wails, and screams unprecedented in popular music. He was cited by two of soul music's pioneers, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
, as contributing to that genre's early development. Redding stated that most of his music was patterned after Little Richard's, referring to Little Richard's 1953 recording "Directly From My Heart To You" as the personification of soul, and that he had "done a lot for and soul brothers in the music business." Cooke said in 1962 that Little Richard
Little Richard
had done "so much for our music". Cooke had a top 40 hit in 1963 with his cover of Little Richard's soulful 1956 hit 'Send Me Some Loving'.

James Brown said that Little Richard
Little Richard
and the Upsetters, including drummer Charles "Chuck" Connor , were "the first to put the funk in rhythm", with a biographer stating that their music "spark the musical transition from fifties rock and roll to sixties funk".

Little Richard's hits of the mid-1950s, such as "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally", "Keep A-Knockin'" and "Good Golly Miss Molly", were generally characterized by playful lyrics with sexually suggestive connotations. AllMusic writer Richie Unterberger stated that Little Richard "merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon", and that while "other R&B greats of the early '50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard's vocals. With his high speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock and roll." Due to his innovative music and style, he's often widely acknowledged as the "architect of rock and roll".

Ray Charles introduced him at a concert in 1988 as "a man that started a kind of music that set the pace for a lot of what's happening today." Rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley called Little Richard "one of a kind" and "a show business genius" that "influenced so many in the music business". Little Richard's contemporaries, including Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
, Bill Haley , Jerry Lee Lewis , The Everly Brothers , Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran , all recorded covers of Little Richard's works. Taken by Little Richard's music and style, and personally covering four of Little Richard's tunes on his own two breakthrough albums in 1956, Presley told Little Richard
Little Richard
in 1969 that his music was an inspiration to him and that he was "the greatest". Pat Boone noted in 1984, "no one person has been more imitated than Little Richard". As they wrote about Little Richard
Little Richard
for their Man of the Year – Legend category in 2010, GQ magazine stated that Little Richard "is, without question, the boldest and most influential of the founding fathers of rock'n'roll". R in 1959 when leaving school, he wrote in his yearbook under "Ambition": "to join Little Richard". Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
was influenced in appearance (clothing and hairstyle/mustache) and sound by Little Richard. He was quoted in 1966 saying, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard
Little Richard
does with his voice." Others influenced by Little Richard
Little Richard
early on in their lives included Bob Seger
Bob Seger
and John Fogerty
John Fogerty
. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
admitted that Little Richard
Little Richard
had been a huge influence on him prior to _Off the Wall _. Rock critics noted similarities between Prince 's androgynous look, music and vocal style to Little Richard's.

The origins of Cliff Richard 's name change from Harry Webb was seen as a partial tribute to his musical hero Little Richard
Little Richard
and singer Rick Richards. Several members of The Beatles
The Beatles
were heavily influenced by Little Richard, including Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
and George Harrison
George Harrison
. McCartney idolized Little Richard
Little Richard
in school and later used Little Richard's recordings as inspiration for his uptempo rockers, such as "I\'m Down .". "Long Tall Sally" was the first song McCartney performed in public. McCartney would later state, "I could do Little Richard's voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing. It's like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it." During the Beatles' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
induction, Harrison commented, "thank you all very much, especially the rock 'n' rollers, an' Little Richard there, if it wasn't for (gesturing to Little Richard), it was all his fault, really." Upon hearing Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" in 1956, John Lennon
John Lennon
later commented that he was so impressed that he "couldn't speak". Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were also profoundly influenced by Little Richard, with Jagger citing him as his first induction to R&B music and referring to him as "the originator and my first idol". Little Richard
Little Richard
was an early vocal influence on Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
. David Bowie
David Bowie
called Little Richard his "inspiration" stating upon listening to "Tutti Frutti" that he "heard God".

After opening for him with his band Bluesology , pianist Reginald Dwight was inspired to be a "rock and roll piano player", later changing his name to Elton John . Farrokh Bulsara performed covers of Little Richard's songs as a teen, before finding fame as Freddie Mercury, frontman for Queen . Little Richard
Little Richard
was referred to as Lou Reed 's rock and roll hero, deriving inspiration from "the soulful, primal force" of the sound made by Little Richard
Little Richard
and his saxophonist on "Long Tall Sally." Reed later stated, "I don't know why and I don't care, but I wanted to go to wherever that sound was and make a life." Patti Smith said, "To me, Little Richard
Little Richard
was a person that was able to focus a certain physical, anarchistic, and spiritual energy into a form which we call rock 'n' roll ... I understood it as something that had to do with my future. When I was a little girl, Santa Claus didn't turn me on. Easter Bunny didn't turn me on. God turned me on. Little Richard turned me on." The music of Deep Purple
Deep Purple
and Motörhead was also influenced by Little Richard, as well as that of AC/DC . The latter's Bon Scott idolized Little Richard
Little Richard
and aspired to sing like him, and Angus Young
Angus Young
was first inspired to play guitar after listening to Little Richard's music. Later performers such as Mystikal , André "André 3000" Benjamin of Outkast and Bruno Mars were cited by critics as having emulated Little Richard's style in their own works. Mystikal's rap vocal delivery was compared to Little Richard's. André 3000's vocals in Outkast's hit, " Hey Ya!
Hey Ya!
", were compared to an "indie rock Little Richard". Bruno Mars admitted Little Richard
Little Richard
was one of his earliest influences. Mars' song, "Runaway Baby" from his album, _ Doo-Wops & Hooligans _ was cited by _ The New York Times
The New York Times
_ as "channeling Little Richard". Prior to his passing in 2017, Audioslave 's and Soundgarden
Soundgarden
's frontman Chris Cornell
Chris Cornell
traced his musical influences back to Little Richard
Little Richard
via The Beatles.

AWARDS AND HONORS

Little Richard
Little Richard
received the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for "Long Tall Sally" in 1956. In 1984, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame . He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 1986, being a member of the initial class of inductees chosen for that honor. In 1990, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm
Rhythm
and Blues Foundation in 1994. In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award . In 1997, he was given the American Music Award of Merit . In 2002, along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley , Little Richard was honored as one of the first group of BMI icons at the 50th Annual BMI Pop Awards. That same year, he was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame . A year later, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame . In 2006, he was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame. Four years afterwards, he received a plaque on the theater's Walk of Fame. In 2008, he received a star at Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame . In 2009, he was inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame . The UK issue of GQ named him its Man of the Year in its Legend category in 2010.

Little Richard
Little Richard
appeared in person to receive an honorary degree from his hometown's Mercer University on May 11, 2013. The day before the doctorate of humanities degree was to be bestowed upon him, the mayor of Macon announced that one of Little Richard's childhood homes, an historic site, will be moved to a rejuvenated section of that city's Pleasant Hill district. It will be restored and named the Little Richard Penniman – Pleasant Hill Resource House, a meeting place where local history and artifacts will be displayed as provided by residents. Penniman was inducted into the Blues
Blues
Hall of Fame on May 7, 2015. On June 6, 2015, Penniman was inducted into the Rhythm
Rhythm
and Blues
Blues
Music Hall of Fame On June 19, 2015, the National Museum of African American Music honored Penniman with the Rhapsody -webkit-column-count: 2; column-count: 2;">

* _The Girl Can\'t Help
Help
It _ (1956), lip-syncing the title number (different version from record), "Ready Teddy" and "She's Got It" * _Don\'t Knock the Rock _ (1956), lip-syncing "Long Tall Sally" and "Tutti Frutti" * _Mister Rock and Roll _ (1957), lip-syncing "Lucille" and "Keep A-Knockin'", on original prints * _ Catalina Caper _ (aka _Never Steal Anything Wet_, 1967), Richard lip-syncs an original tune, "Scuba Party", still unreleased on record by 2013. * _Little Richard: Live at the Toronto Peace Festival_ (1969) – released on DVD in 2009 by Shout! Factory * _The London Rock & Roll Show _ (1972), performing "Lucille", "Rip It Up", "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Tutti Frutti", "I Believe" , and "Jenny Jenny" * _ Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
_ (1973) * _ Down and Out in Beverly Hills _ (1986), co-starred as Orvis Goodnight and performed the production number, "Great Gosh A-Mighty" * _Hail! Hail! Rock \'n\' Roll _ TV Documentary (1987) * _Goddess of Love _ Made For TV Movie (1988) * _Purple People Eater _ (1988) * _ Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills _ (1989) (uncredited) * _Bill ">

* ^ Three other songs were recorded during the sessions, "Dance A Go Go" aka "Dancin' All Around The World", "You Better Stop", and "Come See About Me" (possibly an instrumental), but Vee Jay did not release the latter two.

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