Little Richard
"'Tutti Fruiti, good booty' became 'Tutti Fruiti, aw-rootie' and the rest is history."--
Richard Penniman had been recording rhythm and blues as “Little Richard” since 1951 with limited success. In 1955 he sent a demo tape to Art Rupp of Specialty Records who recognized some potential in the tapes. He brought Richard to Cosimo Matass’s J&M Studios in New Orleans on September 14th, 1955. New Orleans had been a hotbed of the emerging sound of rock and roll, led by artists such as Fats Domino and Lloyd Price. Most of the recordings of September 14th were unremarkable, but one is often sited as “the beginning of rock and roll.” In the middle of the session, songwriter Dorothy La Bostrie rewrote the lyrics to an obscene jingle that Little Richard had been singing between takes. Although the lyrics were cleaned up, the sexual energy remained. “Tutti Fruiti” would cross over from the R&B to the Pop charts, rising to #17 and being successfully covered by Pat Boone (see above). The song would also be performed twice by Elvis Presley on national television. Little Richard’s trademark would be his screaming voice, falsetto’s, and comic antics accompanied by flamboyant dress. He would have his greatest chart success in 1956 with “Long Tall Sally” which was released on April 7 and reached as high as #6. His continued success in 1957 and 1958 would be based on the 1956 recording sessions with songs such as “Keep A Knockin’” (1957) and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” (1958). Little Richard appeared in the rock and roll movie, “The Girl Can’t Help It” in 1956. His energetic performances were the embodiment of the threat rock and roll presented to white adults, but young blacks and whites alike were attracted to the insanity. His influence on early rock and roll came to a sudden halt in 1957 when he suddenly quit recording and entered the ministry. He has claimed the “conversion” came due to a troubled plane flight in Australia. In the mid-sixties Little Richard returned to performing. He was one of the original inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
title week debuted highest ranking Date Highest Rank weeks on chart
Tutti-Frutti 1/28/56 17
Long Tall Sally 4/7/56 6 5/12/1956 12
Rip It Up 7/14/56 17
The Girl Can't Help It 12/5/1956 49   0
Lucille 4/6/57 21
Jenny, Jenny 6/24/57 10 7/29/1957 13
Keep A Knockin' 10/7/57 8 10/28/1957 12
Good Golly, Miss Molly 2/24/58 10 3/17/1958 10