Sunday, May 10, 2020

Little Richard, big legacy

"Little Richard and Florian Schneider gone in a week. The touch-paper for the whole damn 20th Century." So said Suede's Mat Osman on Twitter, and he's right. The man born Richard Penniman was not nicknamed "The Innovator" and "The Originator" for nothing, a showman with serious stage presence, and a fundamental influence on the Beatles, David Bowie and Prince among many others.

And yet, as Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley has underlined in his tribute to the "ultra-sexual force of anti-nature", Little Richard made plenty of missteps along the way - not least the decision he made in 1958, at the peak of his powers, to renounce rock 'n' roll and become a preacher. Thereafter, his career  - blighted by regular religious relapses and serious drug addiction - was "a neverending succession of comebacks". Some were moderately successful, but he never really recaptured the form of his 1950s heyday.

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