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Singer / Actor

Little Richard

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Little Richard


His Story

Richard’s next hit single, “Long Tall Sally” (1956), hit number one on the R&B chart and number thirteen on the Top 100 while reaching the top ten in Britain. Like “Tutti Frutti”, it sold over a million copies. Following his success, Richard built up his backup band, The Upsetters, with the addition of saxophonists Clifford “Gene” Burks and leader Grady Gaines, bassist Olsie “Baysee” Robinson and guitarist Nathaniel “Buster” Douglas.[48] Richard began performing on package tours across the United States.

Birth date: December 5, 1932
Death date: May 9, 2020
Birth place: Tullahoma, Tennessee
Birth name: Richard Wayne Penniman
Marriage: Ernestine Harvin ’59
Children: 1
Occupations: Singer, pianist, songwriter, minister
Genres: Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Soul
Labels: RCA Victor, Peacock, Specialty, End, Ronnex, London, Goldisc, Little Star, Mercury, Atlantic, Vee-Jay, Modern, Okeh, Brunswick, Reprise, K-Tel, Warner Bros., Disney

Richard Wayne Penniman, known professionally as Little Richard, was an American singer, pianist, and songwriter. He was an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades. Described as the “Architect of Rock and Roll”, Richard’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and powerful raspy vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll. Richard’s innovative emotive vocalizations and uptempo rhythmic music played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. He influenced singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations. “Tutti Frutti”, one of Richard’s signature songs, became an instant hit, crossing over to the pop charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Somewhere along his path, Richard encountered well-known singer Lloyd Price, who took a liking to him and convinced him to send a new demo of “Baby” and “All Night Long” in for his record company to review.

“My greatest achievement would have to be ‘Tutti Frutti‘” he told MOJO magazine. “It took me out of the kitchen – I was a dishwasher at the Greyhound bus station, making $10 a week working 12 hours a day, and ‘Tutti Frutti’ was a blessin’ and a lesson. I thank God for ‘Tutti Frutti’.”

The Charts


Top 100

Top 40

Top 10

Number 1

Career Highlights


Although Richard never won a competitive Grammy, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. His album Here’s Little Richard and three of his songs (“Tutti Frutti”, “Lucille” and “Long Tall Sally”) are inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Richard received various awards for his key role in the formation of popular music genres.

  • 1956: He received the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for “Long Tall Sally” in 1956.
  • 1984: He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
  • 1986: He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the initial class of inductees chosen for that honor.
  • 1990: He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • 1994: He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
  • 1997: He received the American Music Award of Merit.
  • 2002: Along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, he was honored as one of the first group of BMI icons at the 50th Annual BMI Pop Awards.
  • 2002: He was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.
  • 2003: He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • 2006: He was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame.
  • 2008: He received a star on Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.
  • 2009: He was inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
  • 2010: He received a plaque on the theater’s Walk of Fame.
  • 2015: He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
  • 2015: He was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.
  • 2015: He received the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music.
  • 2019: He received the Distinguished Artist Award at the 2019 Tennessee Governor’s Arts Awards.


  • The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), lip-syncing the title number (different version from record), “Ready Teddy” and “She’s Got It”
  • Don’t Knock the Rock (1956), lip-syncing “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”
  • Mister Rock and Roll (1957), lip-syncing “Lucille” and “Keep A-Knockin'”, on original prints
  • Catalina Caper (a.k.a. Never Steal Anything Wet, 1967), Richard lip-syncs an original tune, “Scuba Party”, still unreleased on record by 2019.
  • Little Richard: Live at the Toronto Peace Festival (1969) – released on DVD in 2009 by Shout! Factory
  • The London Rock & Roll Show (1973), performing “Lucille”, “Rip It Up”, “Good Golly Miss Molly”, “Tutti Frutti”, “I Believe” [a capella, a few lines], and “Jenny Jenny”
  • Jimi Hendrix (1973)
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), co-starred as Orvis Goodnight and performed the production number, “Great Gosh A-Mighty”
  • Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll TV Documentary (1987)
  • Goddess of Love Made For TV Movie (1988)
  • Purple People Eater (1988)
  • Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989) (uncredited)
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (1990) (voice)
  • Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990)
  • Blossom – S1E5 (1991)
  • Columbo – S10E3 “Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star” (1991) (Cameo)
  • The Naked Truth (1992)
  • Sunset Heat (aka Midnight Heat) (1992)
  • James Brown: The Man, The Message, The Music TV Documentary (1992)
  • Martin S1E12 “Three Men and a Mouse” as The Exterminator (1992)
  • The Pickle (1993)
  • Last Action Hero (1993)
  • Full House (1994) (Cameo) – Episode: Too Little Richard Too Late
  • Baywatch (1995) as Maurice in Episode: The Runaways
  • Be Cool About Fire Safety (1996) as Himself
  • The Drew Carey Show (1997) (cameo) – Episode: Drewstock
  • Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998)
  • Muppets Tonight (1998) – Episode: The Cameo Show
  • Mystery Alaska (1999)
  • The Trumpet of the Swan (2001) (voice)
  • The Simpsons (2002) (voice)
  • Let the Good Times Roll (1973) featured performances and behind-the-scenes candid footage of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Bill Haley, the Five Satins, the Shirelles, Chubby Checker, and Danny and the Juniors.



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