Little Richard

Little Richard

Born in Georgia in the United States, ‘Little’ Richard Penniman was one of 11 children. His parents were strict Seventh Day Adventists and Richard grew up singing gospel music. At 14 he ran away and joined a travelling medicine fair and then a minstrel show before being spotted by a record producer. As a black artist, Little Richard’s first successful singles did not make it into the white charts - but white artists like Elvis who covered his songs did. Then Little Richard recorded Long Tall Sally and this broke all the rules by reaching the top of the American charts.

Little Richard was a wild performer. For Tutti Frutti and Lucille he would stand and pound away at the piano - sometimes with a foot as well as both hands - while singing at fantastic speed with his characteristic high yelps. Here Harry Hammond, the photographer got the shot that no one else could, showing him without his stage ‘face’ on. He always appeared in a snazzy suit, with eyeliner and hair brushed and oiled into a gleaming quiff.