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Richard Wayne Penniman was born in Macon GA and as Little Richard, helped define the wild side of early rock and roll with outrageous behavior on stage. Little Richard Penniman grew up singing gospel and blues and began recording in the early 1950s. "Tutti Frutti" (1955), with its opening line, "A-wop-bom-aloo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom," became his first big hit and remains his rock & roll signature.
He is flamboyant singer, pianist and self-proclaimed 'architect of rock and roll' whose hit songs of the mid-1950s were defining moments in the development of rock and roll genre. His croons, wails, and screams turned songs like 'Tutti Frutti' and 'Long Tall Sally,' into huge hits and his style was an influence on such bands as the Beatles.
Born into a family of 12 children, Penniman learned gospel music in southern Pentecostal churches. He left home in his teens to perform rhythm and blues in medicine shows and nightclubs, where he achieved notoriety for high-energy onstage antics and took the name “Little Richard.” His first recordings in the early 1950s were in the soothing jump-blues style of Roy Brown and showed none of the soaring vocal reach that would mark his later, trademark singing. His breakthrough came in September 1955 at a recording session at J & M Studio in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Little Richard howled “Tutti Frutti,”
Little Richard is a rock and roll pioneer in every sense of the word. He brought outlandish clothes and hairstyles to the national stage for the first time, astonishing 1950s audiences with his brazen sexual innuendo. A People magazine contributor wrote: "No performer deserves more credit for the metamorphosis of black rhythm and blues into rock 'n' roll."
He influenced the careers of other great artists that followed in the 1950’s and 60’s such as James Brown, Elvis, Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis. But another generation discovered him during and extended tour at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany where a young group of British lads fawned over him, learning about rock & roll from the man who invented it. Within about a year, those same kids would dominate the American pop charts, and the 'British Invasion' aka the Beatles had begun.
First sighting of Little Richard in Tennessee is documented in the "you never know who you'll see in Nashville" file of www.city-data.com – a 2008 post from member Don Corleone:
“I submit the name of Richard Wayne Penniman...aka Little Richard. A coworker saw him leaving the downtown Hilton yesterday...shook his hand and he gave him a paperback inspirational book. Sounded like a really cool encounter.”
Penniman’s (Little Richard’s) retirement place is a couple of hours south easterly of Nashville TN in pretty country. It is a little country estate in Moore County (Lynchburg TN is county seat).
A flamboyant singer, pianist and self-proclaimed 'architect of rock and roll' whose hit songs of the mid-1950s were defining moments in the development of rock and roll genre.
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