The Comic Genius of Little Richard

Little Richard

Time Magazine’s unpublished photos of Little Richard “The Wild Man of Rock”

 

Little Richard is a legend

Little Richard has been around forever and is a pioneer and a musical genius. He is also hilarious. I love to watch old interviews of him because before it is over he will have told the viewers how he is the real King of Rock and Roll and probably will have hollered “shut up” once or twice while batting his eyelashes. The man is a character. It takes a certain level of confidence to still rock Pancake #31 and a jehri curl after all these years, and Uncle Richard is still styling on everyone.

When Richard Met Jimi

I of course knew about his contributions to music, after all he is the one who brought us songs like “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally,” and “Tutti Frutti” –  A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!  But I had no idea that he used to work with Jimi Hendrix. Apparently he and a young Jimi Hendrix worked together briefly during the 60’s and Richard was interviewed about the late rocker for a  documentary where he talks about the man as only he can.  

I found this clip  last year, and oh how I cackled about it for weeks. I  would repeat lines to other people who’d seen it telling friends about how something made my big toe shoot up in my boot. Or even announcing dramatically “I have something to tell you!” when I really didn’t. Uncle Richard is comic gold – those facial expressions and those mannerisms. Finding that video made my day.

The clip is less than 2 minutes long and Uncle Richard is serving up tea for your fever letting you know that he is the one who gave Jimi the confidence to not mind looking freaky because he did it first. You peons better recognize. He is resplendent in a a blue spangled jumpsuit with batwing sleeves and a headband that fails to keep that glorious mane out of his eyes so that he has to keep pushing his hair out of his face. He even manages to quote a little Scripture for you heathens.

I don’t know who it was that was keeping Little Richard away from Jimi Hendrix once he became a star, but shame on you. Just imagine the collaborations that could have come from them working  together as equals instead of Jimi just being in the band and having to stay in the background.

Get on Up

Uncle Richard is featured briefly in the new James Brown movie “Get on Up”  where he is played by Brandon Mychal Smith, and those scenes really do stand out because you see him schooling James Brown about the music business with his trademark spunk – and eyeliner. Little Richard is also the subject of a cult classic biopic from 2000 starring Leon that was just okay. It would be great though if someone made a major motion picture about his life while he is still here to have some input. Until then, do yourself a favor and enjoy the interviews and performances available online – you will not be disappointed.

Brandon Smith as Little Richard

Brandon M. Smith as Little Richard in “Get on Up”

 

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