An emotional response to the death of Richard Wayne Penniman (December 5th, 1932 – May 9th, 2020), better known as Little Richard
Old rock n’ roll records can seem to our sticky out modern ‘young’ ears, pedestrian, flat-footed and toothless when listened to now (although still often way sprightlier and nimble than the cosplay revivalist rock n’ roll stuff that showed up uninvited years later holding its stomach in and trying to get off with your Mum).
However, sometimes idiots like you and me need reminding of what is so glorious, bent and hungrily thirstily seductive about real rock n’ roll… put on a Cramps record, for example (you know you need to)… or consider those feelings you get when you put on a Little Richard record from way back when… those records, those songs are as seismic, cataclysmic, and downright unnecessary as they ever were back then…
Elvis may very well have been the pelvis (in that he knew he had one and he wanted you to know too, beyond that… what?) but Little Richard knew what was inside, outside and back around, he knew not just the location but how to get there and what to do when he arrived, he wasn’t a sightseer or visiting for the day… he knew precisely how to rock it up and rip it up and shake it up and ball it up…
That hi-rise Pompidou hair, the pencil-thin mustache, that grin, that face, those suits, those moves… all rootie!
Any Rock and/or Pop superstar that followed Little Richard owes him something and if they don’t, then forget ’em, they aren’t worth your time, they have failed to grasp the torch and run with it, music is poorer, flatter, drearier for those people. Remember that if you’re thinking of getting up on stage to perform your ‘music’ to the poor huddled downtrodden masses, they deserve so much better, so much more. Take some cues from a Little Richard performance. Authenticity is bunk, sincerity is all, be true to yourself, be more than yourself.
Little Richard was bigger than any of his songs, and his songs were immense, nobody should just get up and perform a song trembling like it’s some hushed recital demanding people be reverent and attentive. You get up there and you perform the living heck out of that song like it’s the last song you get to sing ever and in doing so you flaunt you… the you that’s right there in the now and the you that you want to be for eternity, the everlasting you, all the possible ‘youness’ of you and you demand the audience’s attention, don’t just make ’em sit up in their seats, you get them up and dancing but really really dancing and you make them sweat, take them by the scruff of the neck and shake ’em… shake that sweat off ’em and make them dance some more.
Not everyone can do this though.
You need to be a real charmer to get away with that kind of behavior and fortunately for humanity Little Richard was one charming cat. Lesson: Music is not for everybody though, maybe consider doing something else? Because, maybe, you don’t have what it takes?
Some people- a very few- are just born with that thing. They are the instrument. Willingly giving themselves in service, living in abundance and gratitude.
When Little Richard turns up in the 1956 movie ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ he made ‘the fully cantilevered and gorgeous’ Jayne Mansfield look dowdy and plain by comparison… red-blooded square-jawed males watched that picture and didn’t know who they wanted to be fucked by… rock n’ roll, if it contains any potency, should be vulgar, shocking, screaming, swaggering, preening, fabulous, persistent, insistent, lewd, lascivious, loud and ridiculous… Little Richard was all that and then some…
Little Richard got it, it ain’t what he do, it was the way how he do it, it wasn’t what he ate, it was the way that he chewed it. Smoked ham, eggs and jam, corned bread and candy yams. Little Richard got it and couldn’t do without it. Neither could we.
He had to become a preacher because the world would’ve rolled off its axis into a fiery pit if he hadn’t… he had to save us from our own desires, even if he was responsible for pretty much every damned one of them.
RIP Mr. Penniman, the quintessential Georgia peach, the true King of Rock n’ Roll… a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom!”
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.