Let's Enjoy These Nice Times With Little Richard


Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Pettiman, died today at the age of 87, after an incredible and fascinating career spanning seven decades. While his biggest hits — Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly, Lucille and Slippin' and Slidin' and more — all came out in the '50s, Little Richard continued performing and making appearances and recording albums long after that, and long after many of those who came up at the same time as him faded away. His own recordings of those songs have remained the most popular versions of them, despite the millions of cover versions out there, including those recorded by Pat Boone so that white people felt safe listening to the big hits of the time while still being super racist.

So for this open thread today, let's listen to some of his jams.

Little Richard Long Tall Sally - Tutti Frutti www.youtube.com

Little Richard - Good Golly Miss Molly (Muhammad Ali's 50th Birthday) www.youtube.com

Little Richard - Lucille (1957) - HD www.youtube.com

Little Richard ~ Live ~ Ready Teddy ~ 1966 www.youtube.com

One of the very cool things about Little Richard, I think, is that he had no qualms about doing "kids shows" and singing songs for kids. He wasn't "too cool" — and as a result, he endeared himself to multiple generations of younger listeners who might not have heard of him so early in their lives otherwise. Not everyone has parents with good taste in music.

He hung out with Pee-Wee Herman on the ice:

Little Richard and Pee Wee Herman www.youtube.com

He sang the Itsy Bitsy Spider like it was the jam to end all jams:

FH - LIttle Richard Itsy Bitsy Spider www.youtube.com

And he stopped by Sesame Street to sing "Rubber Duckie:"

Sesame Street: Little Richard Sings Rubber Duckie www.youtube.com

I think there must be something very kind in a person who does that.

There is a lot about Little Richard to make us happy and a little to make us sad, because it's hard not to think, you know, had he been born later, he would have been more able to just be himself. There's a lot going around today about the times when he seemed to be comfortable with being queer — or omnisexual as he once described himself — and the times he would find religion again and denounce homosexuality as "contagious" or an "unnatural affection." It's hard to see someone who was so himself, so confident in some ways struggling like that in others.

But aside from that, aside from all of the people he influenced and musicians whose careers may never have happened the same way had he not come before them (had they not ripped him off ...), the truly important thing here is that he was just an unbelievably fucking talented person. He was an incredible piano player and an incredible performer, and that is how he will be remembered.

Anyway, this is now your open thread, Enjoy!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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