Take 2@2 for Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 we celebrate the 85th birthday of a rock and roll pioneer, Little Richard. little-richard-Richard Wayne Penninman was born on December 5th, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He grew up singing in a Baptist Church where his father was a deacon and his mom helped out with the choir. When he was 14, Sister Rosetta Thorpe heard Little Richard performing one of her songs. She then brought Little Richard on stage to sing with her. In 1952, Little Richard got the attention of a local radio DJ who helped Little Richard get his first recording. That recording lead to a deal with RCA Records. After a few stops and starts with various bands, in 1955 Little Richard released his first single “Tutti Frutti.”

In 1956, Little Richard released the song “Rip It Up.” It did well for him reaching number 17 on the pop chart. Just after Little Richard released the song, Bill Haley and the Comets released their version of the song. Time and time again, songs Little Richard released were redone by white musicians for a white audience. Whether it was Bill Haley or Pat Boone, the record labels routinely whitewashed Little Richard’s art to fit the racial divide in America. With Little Richard, his original is always better than any cover.

Last April, Bootsy Collins posted to social media, “he is not in the best of health so I ask all the Funkateers to lift him up.”  A month later in May 2016, Little Richard had his lawyer post, “not only is my family not gathering around me because I’m ill, but I’m still singing. I don’t perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I’m healthy.” May Little Richard be forever young.

The cover is from Los Lobos. They recorded the song 30 years-ago for the movie La Bamba to salute Little Richard, one of the artists idolized by Ritchie Valens.

– Tad Abbey