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Little Richard In The Beachwood

"Wild and outrageous don't begin to describe Little Richard. He hit American pop like a fireball in the mid-1950s, a hopped-up emissary from cultures that mainstream America barely knew, drawing on the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the carnal. He had deep experience in the sanctified church and in the chitlin' circuit of African-American clubs and theaters, along with drag shows, strip joints and, even in the 20th century, minstrel shows," Jon Pareles writes for the New York Times.

"He had a voice that could match the grit of any soul shouter ever, along with an androgynous, exultant falsetto scream that pushed it into overdrive. He plowed across the piano with a titanic gospel-and-boogie left hand and a right hand that hammered giant chords and then gleefully splintered them.

"He had the stage savvy of a longtime trouper, built by a decade of performing before he recorded 'Tutti Frutti.' He had a spectacular presence in every public appearance: eye-popping outfits, hip-shaking bawdiness, sly banter and a wild-eyed unpredictability that was fully under his control. He invented a larger-than-life role for himself and inhabited it whenever a camera or audience could see him."

He was, as many have recounted, one of the architects of rock 'n' roll, along with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

Little Richard made a handful of appearances in the Beachwood over the last decade - none of them performing per se, and sometimes in sideways references, but those appearances demonstrate his wide and deep influence. Let's take a look.

In Little Steven's Garage/Playlist

August 8, 2006

Title: "Brown Sugar"
Artist: Little Richard
From: The King of Rock and Roll (Reprise, 1971)
Comment: The Stones hit played with a lush all-girl chorus and James Brown-style horns.


Minor League Report 2006

September 19, 2006

"Little Richard, Boyz II Men, and Tone Loc appear at Silver Cross Field on July 1. Little Richard remains a pioneer of Rock. Boyz II Men remains a pioneer in ending words with 'z.' Tone Loc remains a pioneer of songs about roofies."


Songs That Did Or Did Not Change The World/Playlist

April 24, 2007

3. Chuck Berry, "Maybelline." If white folks were showing some soul by accepting Ray Charles, why not a black rock 'n' roller, too? Um, well, sorry Chuck Berry, that honor would go to the much less threatening (and talented) Little Richard. Chuck's personal life was too dangerous for all the little Nelsons and Johnsons out there in suburbia. I think where he really changed the world was by his influence on white musicians, especially in England, especially in Liverpool.


Reunion Blues

June 9, 2007

"One of Vee-Jays biggest hitmakers was Jerry Butler. His songs included in the box set are 'For Your Precious Love' (with the Impressions), 'He Will Break Your Heart,' 'Make It Easy On Yourself' and 'Let It Be Me' (with Betty Everett). But that only scratches the surface of what looks to be a fascinating journey through one of the great eras of Chicago soul, blues and R&B music. Among the plethora of artists Vee-Jay recorded in the '50s and '60s were Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, the Staple Singers, Little Richard, Billy Preston, Gene Chandler, Rosco Gordon, J.B. Lenoir, Joe Simon, the El Dorados, the Dells, Jimmy Hughes, the Spaniels and many more."


Pat Boone: Moody River/Bin Dive

December 12, 2007

"'Moody River' prolonged his role in the pop spotlight for a couple more years until he was mercifully rolled over by the British Invasion. Unlike his blatant ripping off of such great black artists as Fats Domino and Little Richard, this song wasn't so much stolen from a victim of Jim Crow prejudice as it was a legitimate effort to give a great, overlooked song the exposure it deserved . . . And then there was that heavy metal thing. Thank Jesus he wasn't able to do to Black Sabbath what he did to Little Richard."


McCain Radio/Playlist

October 28, 2008

10. Long Tall Sally/Little Richard. She's built for speed.


The [Wednesday] Papers

March 23, 2011

6. "The first time hipster was published in the Tribune was in 1946, in reference to the fascinating character who claims to have coined the word: Harry 'The Hipster' Gibson, aka Harry Raab, a Jewish kid from the Bronx who cut his teeth in playing pianos in Harlem speakeasies, eventually working as Fats Waller's fill-in . . . and, his proponents claim, pioneered the style associated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard years before anyone had figured out how to rock," Whet Moser writes.


On The Skiffle Trail: A Rock & Roll Journey From New Orleans To Chicago To Britain And Back

October 9, 2013

Billy Bragg:

"Every salient boy in the UK knew the three chords necessary to play Chuck Berry's entire repertoire. When that happened, they were kind of ready, like a bunch of crazy paratroopers who were just waiting for the red light. When the red light came, they started to buy electric guitars, go to Hamburg . . . Obviously American kids were doing the same thing. Bob Dylan was . . . but something else was going on [in America]. There was a frantic energy to escape, in the Brits, that very easily matches up [to skiffle].

"It's almost as if they were trying to plug into rock and roll, they had an American plug trying to plug into a British [wall]. They've got the American type plug and they punched it into rock and roll.

"I mentioned in the article the way the Kingston trio played 'Tom Dooley' as a funeral song, whereas Donegan plays it [claps his hands in rapid succession, singing] 'Lay down your head Tom Dooley.' He's already . . . it's got velocity. It's not far from that to Hamburg. It's not a long way to go. I think for American kids, culture in the '60s, you'd not turn up to your local church fair and play Muddy Waters or Little Richard. It wasn't conceivable. It just wasn't done. Whereas, in the church fairs where Lennon and McCartney went, they were playing Leadbelly, they were playing Little Richard, and it's totally acceptable. That ability to consume American culture without [the baggage] . . . it's a strength of the British to take where it came from, even someone yodeling, and make it acceptable."


See also:



Comments welcome.


Posted on May 11, 2020

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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