Little Richard’s Life: Sex, Rock and Roll, Religion, and the First Soviet Companion

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Reuters

Image caption

Little Richard had a huge impact on the popular music of the second half of the twentieth century. 2005 photo

Little Richard, one of the pioneers and founding fathers of rock’n’roll, died for many decades, stunning the audience with his falsetto, inimitable energetic playing the piano and a vivid stage image – jumping on stage and breathtaking outfits.

The famous musician died on Saturday at the age of 87. His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed to Rolling Stone magazine his death, saying that her cause is unknown.

Little Richard, whose real name was Richard Wayne Penniman, began his stage take-off in 1956 with the song Tutti Frutti, followed by several hits that went down in rock and roll history – Long Tall Sally and Rip It Up. In 1957, he recorded Lucille, and a year later Good Golly Miss Molly.

In 1986, he was one of the first to be included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His unusual, contagious manner of performance was partially borrowed from gospel music.

Little Richard was born into a large family of 12 children and, according to him, began to sing in order to stand out among his brothers and sisters.

“My head didn’t go through the door then, and it still remains,” he said in an interview with the BBC in 1998.

His manner of performance has had a tremendous impact on many musicians, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John.

They idolized a musician

Ian Youngs, BBC

An explosive performer, a bright person, a singer with a piercing voice, a real natural phenomenon – until the arrival of Little Richard from New Orleans in the 1950s, popular music did not encounter anything like this.

Were it not for Little Richard, the music of bands and artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix would be very different. All of them idolized the musician.

Along with such legends as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, he was one of the few American artists who managed to reunite in the music such original genres as blues, rhythm and blues and gospel, which gave impetus to the evolution of rock and roll in 1960s.

He played the piano while standing and let loose his sonorous voice when playing Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Lucille or Good Golly Miss Molly.

Little Richard became a breath of fresh air in the prim post-war era.

Little Richard was born in Macon, Georgia, on December 5, 1932.

From an early age, he absorbed the rhythms of the gospel and fell under the influence of New Orleans music, transferring them to his own piano improvisations.

His father was a preacher, who also ran a nightclub. Mother was a staunch Protestant.

“I was born in a slum. My dad sold whiskey, smuggled whiskey,” the musician told an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.

The artist left the house while still a teenager after a quarrel with his father, who at first did not support his passion for music.

“My dad wanted him to have seven sons, but I ruined everything for him because I was gay,” he said later.

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PA Media

Richard did not hide his homosexuality, but he had a relationship with women. In 1957, he married a girl named Ernestine Harwin, and they adopted a child.

He was remembered for the periods of addiction to drugs, alcohol and sex parties to which he came with his Bible.

In the late 1950s, he temporarily moved away from music, having once seen a burning ball in the sky at a concert in Sydney, which later turned out to be the first Soviet satellite.

But Richard decided then that this is a sign from above, and God wants him to immediately change his life.

He entered Bible College in Alabama, but he did not study there for long. Five years later he returned to the scene. In 1961, he released an album in the gospel style, after which he tried himself in soul music.

After his brother died from an overdose of Little, Richard again turned to religion and in 1970 became a priest.

Rapture and prejudice

The musician was universally considered an iconic figure of the gay movement, but after being baptized in the Seventh-day Adventist church, he openly denied homosexuality, calling him his temporary choice.

Richard believed that his musical contribution was not appreciated, and blamed the racial prejudices in the United States, which were strong at the peak of his career.

But he was proud that he was able to overcome racial differences. “I always thought that rock and roll united the races. Although I was black, the listeners did not care. I really liked it,” the artist said in an interview.

The musicians of the Rolling Stones, who repeatedly performed at the opening act of Little Richard, express great respect for the musician’s concert energy.

Mick Jagger tweeted: “It was very sad to hear about Little Richard’s death. He influenced me a lot when I was a teenager, and his music still affects me with clockwork energy with the same force as in mid 1950 when she first appeared. “

“When we went on tour together, I always watched his movements on stage and learned from him how to entertain and engage the audience. He was always ready to give advice.”

“He did so much for popular music. I’ll miss you, Richard,” wrote Mick Jagger.

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