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Episode #524 – R.I.P. Little Richard, Pt. 1: 1951-55

Air Week: May 18-24, 2020

R.I.P. Little Richard, Pt. 1: 1951-55

On May 9, 2020, we lost another one of Rock n’ Roll’s true founders: Little Richard. He stands alone in his uniqueness and his influence to all that would follow him. Matt The Cat presents part one of a two-part tribute to the “Architect of Rock n’ Roll.” Growing up in a poor section of Macon, GA wasn’t easy and young Richard Wayne Penniman found himself on his own, singing in clubs before he was 17. However, he was a musical sponge, picking up vocal and performance tips from blues shouters Billy Wright and Roy Brown and some piano licks from the young Esquerita. He landed his first record contract with RCA Victor in late 1951 and cut 4 singles that didn’t go anywhere for the major label. Then in early ’53, Richard was on Don Robey’s Peacock label where he didn’t fare any better. But through all the disappointing record sales, Little Richard was building a style that would burst open when he cut “Tutti Frutti” for Specialty Records in September of 1955. Matt The Cat digs out Little Richard’s long forgotten humble R&B beginnings as we remember one of Rock’s TRUE pioneers on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” 


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