This week’s featured artist is Little Richard! Known as one of the pioneers of rock and roll – if not THE pioneer – he was born Richard Wayne Penniman December 5th 1932, and passed away this past Saturday at the age of 87. Nicknamed “The Innovator”, “The Originator”, and “The Architect of Rock and Roll”, he was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, influential in popular music and culture for seven decades.

Penniman’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding backbeat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll. His innovative emotive vocalizations and uptempo rhythmic music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop, and his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come.

Combining elements of boogie, gospel, and blues, Penniman introduced several of rock music’s most characteristic musical features, including its loud volume and vocal style emphasizing power, and its distinctive beat and rhythm. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as “Tutti Frutti”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll.

Check out this live performance of Tutti Frutti at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995!

Rest In Peace, Richard.

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