THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LITTLE RICHARD: The Quasar of Rock by Charles White


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He single-handedly laid the foundations of a new music form, Rock 'n' Roll . . . an uncontrollable genius whose influence on Western culture is incalculable . . . Little Richard is America."" White, a British rock-columnist, packs more hyperbole and music-history ignorance into his three-page preface than you'd think possible. So it's probably just as well that he doesn't contribute much to this tacky tape-recorder book: for the most part, he just strings together reminiscences from family, friends, colleagues, and Little Richard himself. Born Richard Penniman in 1932 Georgia, Little R. was soon well-known locally-for his singing and for his precocious, flamboyant homosexuality. (Throughout, Little R. offers dank details about his sex parties, his passion for voyeurism, masturbation, etc.) Then, after touring for years without success, came the hit recording of ""Tutti Frutti""--with cleaned-up nonsense lyrics--plus a couple of follow-ups in a similar vein. Wealth and fame ensued. After a brief attempt at retirement--to become a ministet--Richard was embarked on his ""second coming"": years of touring, with (among others) Jimi Hendrix as part of The Little Richard Show. But when the excesses of sex and drugs became too much, Richard opted at last for God over rock-and-vice. ""He changed to a religious and abstemious life-style with the ease of a chameleon changing color,"" says White (without irony)--while Richard, now a Bible-salesman and revivalist, adds: ""I have rejected homosexuality. I have rejected sex. Now I get my thrills from the ministry."" A few intriguing anecdotes for rock fans, some kinky backstage doings for fanciers of the lurid--but those interested in Little Richard's real place (important but not ""incalculable"") in rock-history will have to look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Harmony/Crown