Happy Birthday to Little Richard, who turns 82 today!
Richard Wayne Penniman, known as Little Richard, was born on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He made his own way and his own music from there. Little Richard may have had the biggest influence on rock and roll as any single performer. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, among many others, idolized him–for his style and his talent. Little Richard called himself the “architect of rock and roll.” He once described exactly how his career happened. In the studio, he said, they had me singing like Ray Charles, BB King. They wanted me to sing the blues and that was not me. I got on the piano and started singing: ‘Woooooo!’ They said: ‘Oh boy, where did you get that voice?’ ‘A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom!’ and they said: ‘That’s a hit’… and the rest is history.”
If Little Richard was the incorrigible, precocious, wildly talented man-child of music in his day, perhaps he borrowed that spirit and reputation. December 5 is also the day Mozart died–in 1791 at the age of 35. Both left the music world forever changed. What great musician will be born the day Little Richard dies? That day, one hopes many years from now, will be both sad and cause for celebration.