I often catch myself trying to find topics in Retroflections to write about. Fads, fashions, music, lingo, you name it I love walking down memory lane thinking what can we do this week. For some reason I struggled with this week’s topic. I kept thinking, and pondering. Then I saw a video on Lady Gaga and thought and it got me thinking…
Lady Gaga is not the first entertainer to be outrageous and more about theatrics. I mean there was Madonna, then Cher, there was always someone who made us turn our heads and go “what the heck was that?”
It wasn’t always about women. I think one of the first people in rock and roll and or pop music to make us all turn our heads and say “what the heck is that” was Mr.”awop-bop-a-loo-mop-alop-bam-boom” himself, Little Richard. I recall one of the first times I saw him on TV I was not sure what to think. The man could sing like no other singer, and he could bang on that piano as if the instrument was part of him. He also had a flair for women’s clothing, bouffant hair andmake-up.
As a kid I would stare at him. What is this I would think; is he a man, a woman or a myth? After listening to him over and over, I didn’t care. This flamboyant singer was pure talent and as he self-proclaimed, the kind of rock and roll. Maybe he was the king. Maybe rock and roll had room for many kings. With hits such as “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Lucille,” “Jenny Jenny,” “Keep A Knockin’”, “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Ooh! My Soul”…By 1968, Little Richard had sold over 32 million records internationally. That makes him a king!
Elvis may have had some pelvic action and he had a way with women, but Little Richard could bang on the piano and wail like no other singer of his time. So what if Richards was a homosexual, transvestite and voyeu. Who cares that he had an epiphany and says he had been gay but Jesus had saved him. I think it just adds to who he was.
Richards’s music I thought developed rock and roll. He was the architect of rock and roll. So I never understood that at the peak of his fame, he concluded that rock and roll was the Devil’s work. He just quit the business. I figured he had some sort of demons because he went to Bible college, and became a traveling Evangelical preacher. He stated he was gay, but Jesus saved him and he spent time helping young black men leave the gay lifestyle.
Thank goodness for the Beatles who started playing some of his songs. Little Richard felt inspired once again to do what he did best, and go back into entertainment. So with his fun hairdo, thin mustache and his rock and roll voice, he was back on the stage. Recently I saw a video of Little Richard performing in 2009 which placed him in his late 70s and this man had not changed at all. His voice was flawless, no cracks, no strain, he had the same energy as he did in the 50s. He still had his bouffant hairdo, plucked eyebrows, make up and thin mustache. Little Richard can still make people’s heads turn 50 years later. I don’t think there will ever be another flamboyant performer like him with such a long standing stance. Little Richard, no matter what sort of demons he had, shaped rock and roll to what it is today.