We mark the death on May 9, 2020 – just two years ago today – of the American musician, singer, and songwriter Richard Wayne Penniman, known universally by his stage name of “Little Richard.” Born on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, he died at his home in Tullahoma, Tennessee two years ago today from bone cancer. He was 87 years old.

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As a founding inductee to lớn the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the following statement was read aloud:

“He claims to be ‘the architect of rock and roll’, and history would seem khổng lồ bear out Little Richard’s boast. More than any other performer—save, perhaps, Elvis Presley – Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock và roll with his explosive music & charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock & roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, and Good Golly, Miss Molly defined the dynamic sound of rock và roll.”

Along with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Ike Turner, and Bo Diddley, Little Richard was one of that handful of black American musicians who synthesized blues, rhythm & blues (or R&B), và gospel into what came to be called rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-1950s. Penniman put it this way in an interview with Time magazine in 2001:

“It started out as rhythm & blues. There wasn’t nobody playing it at the time but đen people — myself, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry. Trắng kids started paying more attention khổng lồ this music, white girls were going over to lớn this music, they needed somebody lớn come in there — lượt thích Elvis.”

Yes, “like Elvis”, who hit the bigtime in 1956. What Penniman is saying is that white audiences required a white performer to “legitimize” rock ‘n’ roll & make it part of the white, mainstream culture. Và sadly, to a degree, this is true. But Little Richard, whose ego was ordinarily as over-the-top as his makeup & gender-bending personality – here does himself a rare disservice. Because khổng lồ no small extent, Elvis built his persona on that of Little Richard’s. & so did almost everyone else.


No One

No one had more impact on the emerging rock ‘n’ roll scene than did Richard Wayne Penniman: no one. The androgynous flamboyance of David Bowie, Elton John, Michael Jackson, & Prince? Little Richard had been there, done that, with even greater extravagance decades before.

With his pencil moustache & pancake makeup, his gospel-strong voice và his hooting và hollering, his erotically wild, drag queen persona, Little Richard didn’t just tear down barriers; he nuked ‘em. All in all, it was no small thing for a black, openly gay man from the south to accomplish what he did in the 1950s. His impact on the rock ‘n’ roll community was seminal. James Brown worshipped Penniman & imitated his screams và whoops. Otis Reading (also from Macon, Georgia) & Sly Stone built their musical personas around Penniman’s. When the Beatles met Little Richard after a performance at the Tower Ballroom in the Merseyside resort of New Brighton in October 1962, Penniman gave Paul Mc
Cartney a lesson on how lớn scream in tune (a lesson Mc
Cartney would put to lớn good use on Hey Jude, Maybe I’m Amazed, and I’m Down).…

While every effort has been made khổng lồ follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies.Please refer to lớn the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.
Michael Mc
Donough was a truyền thông team intern at Encyclopaedia trunghocthuysan.edu.vn. He is expected to lớn graduate in 2023 from Northwestern University.
Encyclopaedia trunghocthuysan.edu.vn"s editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that nội dung or via study for an advanced degree. They write new nội dung and verify & edit content received from contributors.

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“The Hillbilly Cat.” “Elvis the Pelvis.” “The Memphis Flash.” The renowned singer and dominant performer Elvis Presley has had no shortage of nicknames, but his most memorable moniker is also his grandest: “the King of Rock ’n’ Roll,” or simply “the King.”

Although its exact debut is unknown, that nickname made one of its earliest appearances on April 19, 1956, when reporter Bea Ramirez called Presley the “21-year-old king of the nation’s rock ’n’ roll set” in the Waco News-Tribune. A month later a story in the Memphis Press-Scimitar referred khổng lồ him as “the fledgling king of rock ’n’ roll.” Ironically, Presley himself declined that title: after his first opening in Las Vegas, in 1969, a reporter referred lớn him as “the King” in a press conference, which prompted him khổng lồ point lớn Fats Domino at the back of the room & say, “No, that’s the real king of rock và roll.”

Despite his objections, Presley remained “the King,” becoming one of the most popular and influential artists of the 20th century. His music reached an unprecedented level of popularity: 149 of his songs appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart, & 18 of them went khổng lồ number one. Wherever he went, the kích thước of his following was massive. Presley’s appearances on television were among the most widely viewed of their time, và his concerts broke audience kích thước records at venues across North America. Although he never performed outside that continent, Presley scored 18 top-ten hits on the U.K. Singles chart in the late 1950s, & his 33 films helped bring him international acclaim through their box office success.

Presley’s popularity stemmed in part from his revolutionary music. His style combined a variety of influences, including country music and blues, to lớn help form what would become known as rock ’n’ roll. Presley was not the sole inventor of the genre; other artists, such as Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, had already established it. However, music at the time was heavily segregated, and producers pushed white talents like Presley to lớn the forefront, enabling him lớn become a major catalyst of the rock ’n’ roll movement.

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Another cause of Presley’s success was his public persona. His flamboyant personality, combined with his good looks and abundant charisma, attracted hordes of people lớn his concerts và television specials. His massive stage presence was amplified by his elaborate outfits và scandalous dance moves, which grabbed the attention of fans around the world.

The impact of Presley’s career went beyond his lifetime. His presence and popularity made him the first rock star, the embodiment of an ideal others would chase for years khổng lồ come. His music inspired thousands of other artists & opened doors for rock musicians of the future, regardless of their sound. Later rock legends, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, have voiced the impact of Presley’s music on their own work. John Lennon, coleader of the Beatles, even went as far as to say that without “the King,” his band would not have existed. Presley’s status as one of the most influential musicians in history has cemented his position as “the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.”