Whenever I want to refer to something elemental, powerful, and representative of Life’s essence, I often cite Little Richard.
He, of Long Tall Sally, Miss Ann, Lucille, Good Golly, Miss Molly, and other personifications of Beauty, Romance, and Soul. He, the proud possessor of one of the great pompadours. He, of kicking the piano bench from behind himself and standing, dancing, pounding and playing the piano. He, of the incomparable and indefinable A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom, his trademark Whooo!, Tutti Frutti, and other utterances.
Rip It Up!
He, who was a faith healer at ten years old, an R & B sensation, a rock and roller, a gospel star, and is an unstoppable force of nature.
I saw him play once, in Iowa, at a rock festival. Yes, Iowa. We had hit the road from Minnesota for adventure. It was the same weekend as Woodstock and we camped out under a big umbrella, 20 feet from the stage. His set began as the sun was coming up, Sunday morning. White cape, white shirt, white pants, white boots, spangles, fringe, and glitter. He sang, he crooned, he shouted. He got everyone on their feet, screaming. He ripped off a lot of his clothes and, at the end of the show, threw some of them into the crowd. I caught one of his boots. The friend I was with took it and gave it to a girl, who we later had to drive home. It was an unforgettable rock and roll experience.
He, who was so wild audience members had to be restrained from throwing themselves off of the balconies. He, who inspired women, in the 1950s(!), to throw their underwear at him and rush the stage to rip souvenirs from his body. He, who saw a fireball in the sky, during a show, and took it as a sign to give up worldly music and return to the church, though it turned out to be Sputnik, the Russian satellite. He, who had the Beatles as his opening act. He, who once described himself as an “Omnisexual.” He who inspired everyone – Bo Diddley, James Brown, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Elvis, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, who was once in his band, and even Bob Seger. Bob Seger?! Come on… You can look it up.
Listen to this.