For over 60 years, Little Richard’s rump-shaking rock ‘n’ roll of pounding piano, fast-paced rhythms, and roaring vocals kept crowds bopping. Little Richard, a g@y black man who contributed to eradicating racial barriers in the music industry and introducing black R&B to mainstream white America in the 1950s, was one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll and a major musical force.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Little Richard owes another legendary rock and roll figure his career. The singer said that Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the “godmother of rock ‘n’ roll,” motivated him to pursue music in the 1984 biography “The Life and Times of Little Richard.”
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Before a performance at the Macon City Auditorium in October 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe overheard the 14-year-old performing one of her songs. Tharpe invited the teen to open her performance. Tharpe later compensated him, encouraging the young vocalist to pursue a career in show business. Little Richard lost his fight with bone cancer on Saturday. He was 87.
“Long Tall Sally,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” and “Tutti Frutti,” all of which were recorded between 1955 and 1958, were among Little Richard’s big singles and hallmark tunes. In the song’s lyrics, a g@y guy was mentioned: “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.”
Little Richard had 18 successful singles that reached the charts in only those few years. By the end of the decade, however, Little Richard said that God had a different plan for him, and he quit making music for the general public to pursue a career in theology. But Little Richard quickly made a comeback to rock ‘n’ roll.
Little Richard’s 60 Years Of Music
Little Richard’s religious beliefs would coexist with his characteristic wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom music for 60 years. He embraced sparkly clothes, pencil-thin mustaches, mascara-lined eyes, and wild, lewd behavior in addition to the Good Book.
He significantly influenced the music industry, selling over 30 million records worldwide and inspiring artists like the Beatles, Otis Redding, David Bowie, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Little Richard was one of the inaugural ten members inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 1993 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, frequently addressed his identity as a g@y man, but he struggled with how his s*xuality and faith interacted.
Little Richard Struggled For Decades With His S*xuality, Faith
Here are some instances of his long-term, public battle with trying to balance his identity and religion. In his memoir “The Life and Times of Little Richard,” published in 1984, Little Richard pondered the early-life s*xual encounters that shaped his s*xual orientation. He asserts at one point that homos*xuality is contagious. It’s not a trait you inherit at birth.
For Playboy in 1987, director John Waters spoke with Little Richard. In a 2010 interview, Waters recounted it to The Guardian. Little Richard is cited as stating, “I love gay people,” according to Waters. I think I started the gay movement. I’m the one who first started being so bold and telling everyone! It would help if you remembered that my father kicked me out of the house. I used to carry the drapes that belonged to my mother on my shoulders. At the time, I also referred to myself as the Magnificent One.
When no males wore it, I was donning eyelash extensions and cosmetics. I had hair hanging everywhere, and I was pretty attractive. When I came out, I didn’t give a damn what others thought because if they found out you were homos*xual, you were in trouble. Many individuals were afraid to be around me.
I’ve been g@y all my life, and I know God is a God of love, not hate, Little Richard proudly proclaimed to Penthouse magazine in 1995. Little Richard openly admitted having orgies with men and women in a 2012 GQ interview and identified as “omnis*xual,” saying, “We are all both male and female. I liken s*x to a smörgsbord. I act on anything I feel like.
In 2017, Little Richard appeared to condemn g@y and transgender persons in an interview with the Christian-affiliated Three Angels Broadcasting Group. One of the hosts questions Little Richard about g@y guys and males wearing dresses. “God, Jesus, created men. He made women, you understand? Additionally, you must live according to God’s will. There is so much unnatural affection in all of these things. So many people go about their daily business without giving God any thought. I do not desire any of his parts.
Little Richard remarked later in the interview that God loves everyone, no matter who they are. “No matter who or what you are, he loves you. Whatever you are, I don’t care. He can save you because he loves you. You only need to pray, “Lord, take me as I am.” I have sinned. But all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
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