NAYZE MEDIA    5/9/2020    1:05pm(est)




Rock & Roll legend Richard Pennimen, better know to most as Little Richard, passed away on Saturday morning. Little Richard was 87-years old. His agent confirmed the news to USA Today (@usatoday) early Saturday morning. Little Richard’s cause of death and location of death are both unknown at the time. In 2013, a heart attack caused Little Richard to retire from performing. It’s not certain if his death was related to the same issue at this time.






  •   Little Richard was born on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia
  • Richard was the 3rd of 12 kids of Leva Mae Stewart and Charles “Bud” Perrimen
  • Bud was a church Deacon and brick mason…Bud also sold bootleg moonshine on the side, and owned a nightclub called “Tip In Inn”
  • Richard’s mom was a member of Macon’s New Hope Baptist Church
  • In October of 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard 14-year old Richard singing her songs before a performance at the Macon City Auditorium. She invited Richard to open up the show for her
  • After the show, Sister Tharpe paid him. Richard saw the light, and knew what he wanted to do with his life
  • In 1949, Richard began performing in Doctor Nubillo’s Traveling Show. Richard was encouraged by Nubillo to wear Turbans and capes during his performances. Nubillo himself, carried a black walking stick, and exhibited something he called “the devil’s child.” The dried up body of a baby with claw feet like a bird and horns on its head. Nubillo told Richard that he was going to be famous, but he would have to go where “the grass was greener.”
  • Before entering the 10th grade, Richard left home and joined “Dr. Hudson’s Medical Show” later on in 1949.
  • Richard performed Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia”. Richard recalled that it was the first R&B secular song he’d ever learned, since his family had strict rules against playing R&B music which they considered “Devil’s music.”
  • Richard also performed in drag during this time, performing under the name “Princess Lavonne.”
  • In 1950, Richard joined his first musical band, Buster Brown’s Orchestra. Brown gave him the name “Little Richard.”
  • Still performing in the minstrel show circuit at the time, Richard performed in and out of drag for various Vaudeville acts.
  • Richard settled in Atlanta Georgia, where he began frequenting local Rhythm & Blues nightclubs. Richard watched R&B performers like Roy Brown and Billy Wright.
  • Richard was influenced by Brown & Wright’s flashy style, flamboyant personas, and showmanship. Richard knew he wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a R&B singer
  • Richard befriended Wright and learned many things from the experienced singer, including how to dress, entertain, and Richard even copied Wright’s hairstyle, pencil mustache, and pancake makeup.
  • Impressed by Richard’s singing, Wright put him in contact with a local DJ, who recorded Richard at his station, backed by Wright’s band
  • Those recordings led to a contract for Richard that very year with RCA Victor
  • Richard recorded 8 songs for RCA, including the Blues Ballad, “Every Hour”, which became a smash hit in Georgia.
  • Richard left RCA in 1952 after a year of his songs never garnering more than local attention
  • Richard moved to Houston after his father died shortly after his release from RCA. He formed a band in Houston called the “Tempo Tappers”, where Richard’s band performed at local clubs. He was quickly noticed and scouted by local talent agents
  • Richard signed with Peacock Records in 1953, recording 8 songs for Peacock. But just like with RCA, none of Richard’s songs caught on nationally, even though people loved to see him perform.
  • Richard began to complain about his salary from the label. That led to a fight between Richard and label owner, Don Robey. Richard was knocked out cold in the fight. In need of money, Richard decided that he needed to leave the business for awhile and try to earn at a 9-5 like everyone else
  • In 1954, Richard moved back to Macon and got a job as a dishwasher for Greyhound Lines. Later that year, Richard formed a newer and better band which he called “The Upsetters”The band supported R&B singer Christine Kittrell on a few recordings. They then began successfully touring with Kittrell. Because the band had no bass guitarist, Richard and his crew created their own sound instead, forcing Connor the drummer to thump “real hard” on his bass drun in order to get a bass fiddle effect.
  • Around the same time, Richard signed a solo contract to tour with fellow R&B singer “Little” Johnny Taylor.
  • At the suggestion of singer Lloyd Price, Richard sent a demo to Price’s label, Specialty Records in Feb. 1955.
  • In September of that year Specialty owner, Art Rupe, loaned Richard money to buy out of his Peacock contract, and sent Richard to work with producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell.
  • After hearing Richard’s demo, Blackwell believed Richard could be Specialty’s answer to Ray Charles. Richard, however preferred the sound of “Fats” Domino.
  • Blackwell sent Richard to New Orleans, where he recorded at J&M studios with several of Fats Domino’s session musicians. Initially, Richards recordings drew very little interest.
  • Frustrated, Richard and Blackwell went to relax at “The Dew Drop Inn” nightclub. According to Blackwell, Richard jumped on stage out of nowhere and began performing a risque dirty blues song titled “Tutti Fruit.” Blackwell said he felt right away that the song was a hit. He hired Dorothy Labostrie to replace some of Richard’s sexual lyrics with less controversial words.
  • Recorded in 3 takes in September of 1955, “Tutti Frutti” was released as a single in November of the same year.

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