Little Richard aka Richard Wayne Penniman, would have turned 90 this week, two years on from his death. The music icon was one of the architects of Rock and Roll with 1950s classics like Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally. Sadly his fame, like other Black music stars of his age, never reached the heights of some of those he influenced from Elvis Presley to The Beatles. Nevertheless, the Fab Four have shared fond memories over the years of encounters with their idol, including one of John Lennon’s posted by his estate today.
John Lennon, who was killed 42 years ago this week, once said: “I grew up with Blues music, Country & Western music. The sailors came in, brought folk music, all kinds. I was at college and listened to the music. It was an easy progression to rhythm and blues via Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. One thing we always did was to tell where we got our music from. In fact when we arrived (in the USA) in 1964, we had a total of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard as musical idols. Chuck Berry is the greatest influence on Earth. So is Bo Diddley and so is Little Richard. There is not one white group on Earth that hasn’t got their music in them. And that’s all I ever listened to.”
Upon Little Richard’s death at 87 in 2020, Sir Paul McCartney posted a touching tribute with memories of performing with him.
Macca wrote on Instagram at the time: “From Tutti Frutti to Long Tall Sally to Good Golly, Miss Molly to Lucille, Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager. I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style, and he knew it. He would say, ‘I taught Paul everything he knows’. I had to admit he was right. In the early days of The Beatles, we played with Richard in Hamburg and got to know him. He would let us hang out in his dressing room and we were witness to his pre-show rituals. With his head under a towel over a bowl of steaming hot water he would suddenly lift his head up to the mirror and say, ‘I can’t help it cos I’m so beautiful’. And he was. A great man with a lovely sense of humour and someone who will be missed by the rock and roll community and many more. I thank him for all he taught me and the kindness he showed by letting me be his friend. Goodbye Richard and a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop – Paul McCartney.”
The 80-year-old continues to listen to Little Richard’s hits to “life my spirits” to this day.
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Sir Ringo shared a snap of Little Richard with The Beatles like McCartney did, commenting: “A night to remember little Richard. And the boys peace and love.”
He added in another one: “God bless little Richard one of my all-time musical heroes. Peace and love to all his family.”