The documentary Little Richard: King and Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll explore Richard’s far-reaching influence which is still felt in contemporary pop culture and his advocacy for the rights of Black in the music industry. He also struggled with his own s*xuality.
On Which OTT Platform Little Richard’s Documentary is Available?
At the 1988 Grammy Awards, Little Richard reportedly declared while presenting the Best New Artist Award to Jody Watley
“I am the architect of rock and roll! I am the originator.”
This assertion is supported by the evidence presented in the new American Masters documentary, Little Richard: King and Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll which premieres on PBS stations throughout the country this Friday, June 2.
Little Richard is undeniably one of the prime movers and shakers in rock ‘n’ roll history thanks to his thunderous piano playing, flamboyant personality and genre-defying musical style inspired by gospel, blues and the queer.
Similarly, Little Richard overcame pervasive prejudice and repressive norms regarding how men and women should identify and express themselves in order to achieve fame and inspire generations of musicians.
Little Richard has been an inspiration to a wide range of musicians including Elton John, Prince, Harry Styles and David Bowie. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones both had a deep appreciation for Little Richard’s music.
The Beatles embraced Little Richard rather than exploited him by covering some of his songs and adopting his style for themselves. When they were just getting started, both the Beatles and the Stones took turns opening for Little Richard.
He felt marginalized for a long time because of the success of white musicians like Elvis Presley and Pat Boone with their covers of “Tutti Frutti” Richard’s first Top 40 smash.
“When I first heard ‘Tutti Frutti’ my heart nearly burst with excitement, The music filled the room with energy and color and outrageous defiance. I had heard God.”
Little Richard ended his career by returning to his gospel origins, but his influence on rock ‘n’ roll is still felt today with songs like “Good Golly, Miss Molly”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille” which all reached number one on the charts.
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