I used to be — God, do I’ve to confess this? — about 13 after I first heard Little Richard. There have been two folks like that in 1956 or ’57: him and Jerry Lee Lewis. I watched Elvis Presley on “Ed Sullivan,” however I’ve a extra vivid reminiscence of the primary time I noticed Jerry Lee or Richard, as a result of they had been wild. Elvis moved his hips, however with [Richard and Lewis], the hair flew and the fingers flew and the physique language was startling.
It was all the things our mother and father hated, in order that made it that rather more harmful, and a part of it was in all probability as a result of he was African American. I actually needed to play piano like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. I knew I couldn’t, however I spent quite a lot of time attempting. It wasn’t exhausting to play what they performed, however it was unimaginable to play the best way they performed.
For the 25th Grammys in 1983, I obtained Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rely Basie collectively on piano. This was a dream come true. However that was throughout [Little Richard’s] gospel interval. It began out with everyone taking a verse on “What’d I Say.” Rely Basie sang, “See the gal with the diamond ring / She is aware of learn how to shake that factor.” Jerry Lee sang, “See the lady with the purple gown on / Do the burlesque all evening lengthy.” Richard sang, “Met God in ’74 / I don’t sing rock ’n’ roll no extra / I obtained Jesus!”
After which for his personal track, he did “I’ve Acquired the Pleasure, Pleasure, Pleasure, Pleasure (Down in My Coronary heart).” Richard wouldn’t do any of the hits. There was a showdown: “Ken, I can’t try this. You need me on the present? I’m gonna sing the Lord’s music, not the satan’s music.” And I purchased it. Anyone have an issue with that? No. In case you have that lineup — that’s Mount Rushmore; it truly is.
For the 2008 Grammys, he sang “Good Golly Miss Molly” in a medley with Jerry Lee that my good friend John Fogerty helped put collectively. The entire concept was to get them to play collectively, however it was nonetheless very aggressive between them. They had been very chilly to one another after we first began rehearsing, after which there was some type of a warming. Nonetheless, they confronted away from one another once they performed!
You could possibly see Richard activate when he was in entrance of individuals, versus when he was simply with you. However regardless of the notion of his persona being on the sting, each time we labored collectively, he was simply pretty.
As instructed to Chris Willman
Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Little Richard died Could 9 of bone most cancers at age 87. Ken Ehrlich, the producer of the Grammys for the previous 40 years, counted him as certainly one of his youthful heroes and had the singer on the awards telecast a number of instances.