Little Richard


A man who needs no introduction, Little Richard, has sung his last verse at the age of 87. Well, he needs no introduction but we’ll try and give him a fair shake anyway. As a rock and roll innovator in the 1950s, Little Richard was the guy who came along to inspire the pioneers of the music genre. Richard Penniman was born in 1932, and gained the name the world knew him by early on for his skinny frame. Discovered as a singer by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in 1947, Richard took the music world by storm. He had the balls to be an in your face, hyper sexualised, energetic, camp black man in 1950s America, in the American South to boot, and managed to be loved for it.

As the 1950s progressed, Little Richard produced some of the most instantly memorable tunes of the era: Lucille, Good Golly Miss Molly, Long Tall Sally, and of course, Tutti Frutti, which must be the most excited anyone has ever been about getting a shag in music history.  He was challenging the great Fats Domino in terms of chart sales. Pat Boone also covered Tutti Frutti, which suggests someone somewhere wasn’t in on what those lyrics meant…

However after narrowly missing a plane crash, Little Richard went back to the gospel music that he grew up with. He was ordained a minister in 1970 and the religious side of his life began to take precedence. This led to him burying his own bisexuality in the closet, to the point of the odd unfortunate comment in the press. Although as he admitted his own LGBT nature to Penthouse in the 90s long after he started preaching how bad it was, that just shows you how screwed up folk can get from that type of indoctrination. Also his own father kicking him out of his family home as a teenager for being gay probably screwed him up too.

He missed his own induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame due to recovering from an extreme car crash, another incident in which he claimed God had saved his life.

But that’s the grim bit.

Little Richard was called The Architect of Rock and Roll and with good reason. The list of bands and music acts he influenced would be like reading the Yellow Pages aloud, but suffice to say they include The Beatles, David Bowie, James Brown, Sam Cooke and Lemmy from Motorhead to name just a few. He survived a near fatal cocaine addiction in the 1970s and was able to go teetotal once more. All of his contemporaries from Ray Charles to Elvis considered him the greatest performer of their generation. His concerts busted segregation in the 50s and 60s by encouraging mixed dance floors. He won awards all over the shop, a worthy reward for his complete overhaul of music history.

Outside of music, he appeared in Columbo and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, and sang the national anthem at WrestleMania X. His life was full of records and stats.

Although the most sobering stat of all is to remember that Little Richard won no Grammy Awards in his career, and Billie Eilish has won five already…

As he had just missed out on the Drop 40, with 28 picks, several times went for the musical genius. They include Sovereign Reaper, who now has had 3 DDP hits in 12 days, by far their best run of form in history. Others included I’m Sleep When You’re Dead (did they?), Who Turned Out the Lights? (God if we believe Little Richard), and Funeral Furore, which he didn’t have due to dying of cancer during the coronavirus lockdown. The bloody covid is wiping out everyone except the DDP picks of late. Your humble DDP co-host this week lost a friend of nearly 20 years to the virus. Little Richard also played himself in the great 90s Arnie flick Last Action Hero, let’s hope life isn’t trying to make the title literal in the months to come.

Little Richard
5 December 1932 – 9 May 2020
28 teams