Often cited as “the architect of rock and roll”, American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) was born on this day December 5 in 1932. He is considered key in music’s transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s, and was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat which contributed significantly to the development of soul music.
Like the late great Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off Fifties music, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and 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 and roll. Little Richard began performing on stage and on the road in 1945, when he was in his early teens, and began his recording career on October 16, 1951 by imitating the gospel- influenced style of late-1940s jump blues artist Billy Wright, who was a friend who gave him the opportunity to record his first song.
However His early fifties recordings, did not achieve remarkable commercial success, and it was not until 1955, under the guidance of Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, that he began recording in a style he had been performing onstage for years, which featured a varied rhythm (derived from everything from drum beats he would hear in his voice to the sounds of trains he would hear thundering by him as a child), a heavy backbeat, funky saxophone grooves, over-the-top gospel-style singing, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections, accompanied by a combination of boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues music.
This new music, which also included an original injection of funk into the rock and roll beat, also inspired many of the greatest recording artists of the twentieth century, including James Brown, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and many other rhythm & blues, rock, and soul music artists. During the height of his stardom He charted seventeen original hits in less than three years and in 1986 He became one of the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of only four (along with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Fats Domino) to also receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame In 2007, and in 2010 The United States of America’s Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the groundbreaking recording of his original 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti”to its registry, claiming that the hit, with its original “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!” a cappella introduction, heralded a new era in music. It has also been voted Number 1 by an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists on Mojo’s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.”