Little Richard, The Very Best Of, 2008

Producer/ Chris Clough

Label/ Specialty Records

Keiner konnte schreien wie Little Richard, keiner trat greller auf, keiner war auf der Bühne so wild, so flamboyant, so exaltiert wie er. Er hämmerte auf sein Klavier ein, wiegte sich, rannte, tanzte, versetzte das Publikum in Aufregung und legte mit jedem Stück, jedem Tanzschritt, jedem Hecheln, Jauchzen, Keuchen, Rufen, jeder Anfeuerungsparole und jedem Schrei noch einen drauf. „Ich mag es schnell“, sagte er anzüglich „rauf und runter, rein und raus.“ Ein Orgiastiker ohne Vorspiel. Sein grösster Stolz sei, sagte er einmal, dass er im schwarzen Süden schwarze und weisse Kids zusammengebracht habe.

Als Little Richard 1955 im J&M Aufnahme-Studio von New Orleans „Tutti Frutti“ vorspielte mit dem unvergesslichen Refrain „a-wop-boba-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-bom“, hörte der Produzent hinter dem Mischpult einen Hit heraus. Das Problem bestand darin, dass der Song von schwulem, analem Sex handelte. Auch „Long Tall Sally“, sein nächster Hit handelte von schwarzen Dragqueens, ihren Künstlernamen, der Länge ihres Glieds und ihren bevorzugten Sexpraktiken. Der Sänger musste also seine Texte kastrieren oder codieren, damit keines der seligen weissen Kids im Publikum wusste, was „duck back in the alley“ wirklich meinte.

Little Richard war Camp, bevor das Wort erfunden war: Er trug die Haare hochtoupiert, hatte die Augen stark geschminkt, zog sich grell an, in allen Farben, war behängt mit Schmuck.  „If Elvis was the king of Rock’n’Roll“, sagte er einmal, „then I was the queen.“ God save the Queen.

11 Gedanken zu “

  1. He generated so much excitement in his performance. My dad liked the 50s rock and roll. He grew up in the 50s and he would tell me…no one could sing like Little Richard. I thought yea yea…until I heard him…yep dad was right. He would tell me about Pat Boone covering Richard songs totally without soul so parents would not be afraid to buy the record.

    I can see some of Richard in Jimi Hendrix and Prince just to name a few. Not in singing but presence. Richard had it not only in singing but his talk…he was Ali before Ali.

    *A side story…my dad hated Pat Boone…he went to the same school as Boone and actually got into a fight with him…over a girl. I don’t promote violence…but I’m still proud of that.

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    1. Thanks Max! Yes, 1955 you have to take that into account. Little Richard was the primal scream of rock’n’roll. All his previous recordings were made with concentrated and shameless energy. Long Tall Sally and Miss Molly were really hot sweeps. It goes without saying that Little Richard made music history, he influenced all the great ones from Elvis to Prince.

      I always found Pat Boone troublesome. I don’t even like his „Speedy Gonzales“: way too little swing, doesn’t fit the fastest mouse in Mexico …


      1. Didn’t mean to ramble but Richard and Boone are linked in my mind for that reason…
        Little Richard’s the whole package. He was more intense than many of his peers at the time.

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    1. In the mid-50s, was rock’n’roll not socially acceptable yet. It was avant-garde back then. I think „Slippin ‚and Slidin'“ is a good example of how this type of music could excite young people. Greil Marcus once said, that the kids didn’t know what Richard was singing, but they were excited and felt the lust that he spread.

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    1. Grazie! Sì, il video è bel. Tutti sembrano così allegri mentre ballano, sorridono e ridono. Ma è buffo come tutte le persone sul palco siano nere e le persone tra il pubblico siano bianche.

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  2. There was nothing little about Richard Wayne Penniman – one of the most amazing performers ever! Watching Little Richard playing and singing is just mesmerizing to me. It’s impossible not to start grooving along. He also was a great showman. Can you imagine what it must have been to see him live?

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    1. Well, I saw Little Richard once 1996 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. A friend persuaded me to go with him. I was already prepared for a disappointment concert in style of a Las Vegas revue. Instead, came suddenly Little Richard on stage, sat down to his grand piano and played a fast instrumental with the band, then he took a breath and screamed: „Good Golly Miss Molly“. He almost only played his own songs, many pieces twice, except some others like „Blueberry Hill“ or „I Saw Her Standing There“. It was a short gig. Little Richard was 64 at the time and he was the first time in Montreux. It was good concert for me, even if the whole thing had a few cracks.

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