Saturday, May 9, 2020

Little Richard


1950's rock was so joyous.It may have had to do with the times. Music reflects the culture that begets it. From what I know of the fifties, the times were bland. Think Dwight D. Eisenhower; Arthur Godfrey; Perry Como. A boxy wooden radio in the kitchen; squiggly lines on a black and white TV with rabbit ears. "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". White T-shirts and jeans with thick rolled-up cuffs.  Bobby socks and saddle shoes. Felt skirts and Peter Pan collared blouses. Kids were itching to break through the dreary fog, but they had no idea how. Listening to Dad's music -- Pat Boone, Patti Page, Paul Anka, and Rosemary Clooney -- just wasn't cutting it.

Then along came some crazy flamboyant acts -- out of nowhere. A greasy-haired pompadoured guy from Tupelo, Mississippi who could wiggle his hips; a poet from St. Louis who had a way with words and with a Telecaster; a Lubbock, Texas hillbilly with a hiccup in his voice; a New Orleans piano master with a deep voice; a Sun Records phenom with a straggle of blond bangs who set the black and white keys afire. And a Macon, Georgia black eye-lined, lipstick smeared screacher.





What was this? You mean there's life out there? People can be emotional? Show some enthusiasm? Mom told us that was bad. Our priest warned us against it.

What the hell...



Some guys from Liverpool covered the song, but not as well:



I learned that Little Richard employed unknown artists such as James Brown and Jimi Hendrix as members of his backup band. I also know that a Minnesota artist named Prince cut his teeth on Richard Penniman songs. It's rare to be a pioneer -- there's not much to discover anymore. Little Richard was a real one.

Rest in peace. You saved a generation.

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