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Little Richard Gone

from Rolling Stone

‘I Majored in Mouth’: How Little Richard Invented the Rock Star

With his “A-wop bop-a-loo-bop, a-lop bam boom” battle cry, the late singer-pianist embodied an irrepressible rebel spirit that inspired everyone from John Lennon to Jimi Hendrix

ByROB SHEFFIELD

American musician and singer Little Richard pictured, with Screaming Lord Sutch behind,  speaking at a press conference to promote his appearance at the London Rock and Roll Show at Wembley Stadium in London, 4th August 1972. (Photo by Jack Kay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Rob Sheffield looks back on how Little Richard’s big mouth and chaotic ego paved the way for every rock star who would follow. Getty Images

Rebellion, outrage, scandal, hypersexual egomania, ripping it up, rocking it up, gigantic hair, and mascara — all these things are in rock & roll because Little Richard put them there. He was the loudest and wildest and rudest of the Fifties pioneers, the most flamboyantly and untamably free. He invented the rock star. That’s why the world is mourning today for Little Richard, who died this morning at 87. “The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Tutti Frutti,” “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Heebie Jeebies” — these songs have been an inspiration to rebel hearts ever since. When John Lennon was asked in 1970 by Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner about his taste in music, Lennon simply replied, “A-wop bop-a-loo-bop.”

That battle cry — the opening holler of “Tutti Frutti” — kicked off Little Richard’s career in 1955. It was the sound of a poor gay black kid in Macon, Georgia, announcing to the world that his time had come, exploding with falsetto screams and piano-stomping flash and a six-inch pompadour. As Little Richard told Rolling Stone in his legendary 1970 cover story, “I came from a family where my people didn’t like rhythm & blues. Bing Crosby, ‘Pennies From Heaven,’ Ella Fitzgerald, was all I heard. And I knew there was something that could be louder than that, but didn’t know where to find it. And I found it was me.” 

[ click to continue reading at Rolling Stone ]

Posted on May 9, 2020 by Editor

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