Little Richard to be buried at historically black college

Music

Little Richard to be buried at historically black college

Monday, May 18, 2020

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard will be buried at Oakwood University, a historically black university in Huntsville, Alabama.

Gerald Kibble, director of Oakwood Memorial Gardens, said the private funeral will be held Wednesday and will not be open to the public.

Little Richard's close friend Pastor Bill Minson said the singer was an alumnus of the university. Little Richard died Saturday at the age of 87 in Tennessee due to bone cancer.

The cemetery is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist university.

Born Richard Penniman, Little Richard was one of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers who helped shatter the colour line on the music charts, joining Chuck Berry and Fats Domino in bringing what was once called “race music” into the mainstream. Richard's hyperkinetic piano playing, coupled with his howling vocals and hairdo, made him an implausible sensation — a gay, black man celebrated across America during the buttoned-down Eisenhower era.

He sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and his influence on other musicians was equally staggering – from the Beatles and Otis Redding to Creedence Clearwater Revival and David Bowie. In his personal life he wavered between raunch and religion, alternately embracing the Good Book and outrageous behaviour and looks – mascara-lined eyes, pencil-thin mustache and glittery suits.

“Little Richard? That's rock 'n' roll,” Neil Young, who heard Richard's riffs on the radio in Canada, told biographer Jimmy McDonough. “Little Richard was great on every record.”

It was 1956 when his classic Tutti Frutti landed like a hand grenade in the top 40, exploding from radios and off turntables across the country. It was highlighted by Richard's memorable call of “wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom”.

A string of hits followed, providing the foundation of rock music: Lucille, Keep A Knockin', Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly. More than 40 years after the latter charted, Bruce Springsteen was still performing Good Golly Miss Molly live.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney imitated Richard's signature yelps — perhaps most notably in the “Wooooo!” from the hit She Loves You. Ex-bandmate John Lennon covered Richard's Rip It Up and Ready Teddy on the 1975 Rock and Roll album.

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986 he was among the charter members with Elvis Presley, Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke and others.


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