Did You Know Music Pioneer Little Richard Was Born on This Day?

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This Day In History: December 5th

During a time when defying societal norms was considered taboo, the ever vibrant and flamboyant musician known as Little Richard made sure to provide his fans with unforgettable songs and performances. Here are five things to know about the late artist Little Richard!

  1. The Early Life of Little Richard. Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, was born on December 5, 1932, in Macon, Georgia. His tumultuous relationship with his father led to him leaving his family’s home at the age of 13 and he was taken in by a white family. The family owned a club in Macon and provided a space for him to develop his talents and start performing in front of audiences.
  1. A Pioneer Performer. Little Richard is considered to be an architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll due to his unique choice of beats and rhythms. He was able to build his sound by fusing gospel, the blues, and boogie woogie together. Little Richard recorded hits such as “Tutti Frutti,” “Ready Teddy,” “Long Tall Sally,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” In addition to music, he also appeared in films such as Don’t Knock the Rock (1956) and Mister Rock ‘n’ Roll (1957). His high-energy performances, stage presence, lyrics and style also helped to set the tone for rock ‘n’ roll artists that followed in his footsteps. 
  1. Gospel Influence. Much of Little Richard’s musical abilities is credited with his years spent in the church. Several members of his family (two uncles and his grandfather) were preachers, which shaped his involvement with the church. Little Richard sang and played the piano at church. This upbringing influenced his 1957 decision to stop performing rock and start recording gospel songs. He recorded the religious album God Is Real in 1959, but found himself back indulged in rock ‘n’ roll by 1964.
  1. Inspiration To Other Artists. As someone who is considered an innovator in the realm of rock music, it is no surprise that Little Richard was an inspiration to many artists who enjoyed successful careers. Talents such as The Beatles, The Sonics, Queen, Otis Redding and a variety of others were all influenced by the sounds of Little Richard. Hits including “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” have all been sampled or covered by popular artists after him.
  1. Career Achievements And Accolades. The music icon earned himself a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the original inductees in 1986. Little Richard was also a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and four of his songs have become a part of the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also earned an NAACP Hall of Fame Image Award and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. 

After a career that spanned more than six decades, he decided to retire from the spotlight and focus on his health in 2013. Little Richard died on May 9, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee from bone cancer, but remains a celebrated figure in the music industry. 

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