Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, August 4, 2017

June 21 - Little Richard: A Wop Boppa Lou Bop

Richard's signature sound, flamboyant look, and electric moves on stage always made him a showstopper. For most audiences he was mesmerizing.  For many artists, he was the blueprint.  At the 1988 Grammy's while presenting the award for Best New Artist, he proudly proclaimed, "I am the Architect of Rock & Roll." I would be hard pressed trying to find someone that would disagree with his statement. He is quick to make statements like "Elvis Presley, he stole from me! James Brown stole from me! I'm the originator!" 

After reading Wikipedia's list of artists that claim to be influenced by Little Richard, I'm going to have to say, he is absolutely right.  The paragraph below outlines those individuals . . .

Richard influenced generations of performers across musical genres.   James Brown and Otis Redding both idolized Little Richard. Brown allegedly came up with the Famous Flames debut hit, "Please, Please, Please", after Little Richard had written the words on a napkin.  Redding started his professional career with Little Richard's band, The Upsetters. He first entered a talent show performing Little Richard's "Heeby Jeebies", winning for 15 consecutive weeks.  Ike Turnerclaimed most of Tina Turner's early vocal delivery was based on Little Richard, something Little Richard himself reiterated in the foreword of Turner's biography, King of Rhythm.  Bob Dylan first performed covers of Little Richard's songs on piano in high school with his rock and roll group, the Golden Chords; in 1959 when leaving school, he wrote in his yearbook under "Ambition": "to join Little Richard". 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 does with his voice." Others influenced by Little Richard early on in their lives included Bob Seger and John Fogerty.  Michael Jackson admitted that 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

While he may be quickly recognized by many (and that is musically and by appearance), most are probably unaware of his troubled childhood or his interesting, complex relationship with the church. Both of these were brilliantly reflected in the television biopic of his life. Directed by Robert Townsend, starring Jennifer Lewis and featuring Leon as Little Richard; the movie does an amazing job narrating us through his rough and rigged bond with his father, to his development of his stage persona to his introduction to make-up.  

Little Richard was indeed a trailblazer and though he may not have numerous awards or accolades, he is tremendously respected by his peers and countless artists still point to him as a source of inspiration.  Check him out below performing his hit Lucille.

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