Five Things You Didn't Know About Little Richard

Little Richard 1932-2020

May 9, 2020
Little Richard

Kris Connor. Getty Images

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Only Jerry Lee Lewis remains as one of the founders of rock and roll.

Little Richard has passed away at the age of 87. He had apparently been in ill health for two months.

I had the opportunity to see Little Richard three times--at Beloit Riverfest in the mid-90s, again at the Madison Blues Festival in 2001, and then in 2005 when he played a co-headlining gig with Chuck Berry at Ho Chunk Casino in Baraboo. All three times I was thoroughly entertained by his singing, piano playing and all around showmanship. The guy was audacious and hilarious! When I saw him in Beloit he even danced on top of his piano.

Here are a few things you may not have known about Little Richard.

1. He had some pretty amazing musicians in his band over the years. Among them--James Brown, Billy Preston, and Jimi Hendrix. Little Richard had to fire Jimi for being too flamboyant and upstaging him.

2. A real life reverend, he officiated at the wedding of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

3. His songs have been covered by everyone from the Beatles to the California Raisins. Paul McCartney says the first song he ever sang in public was Richards' "Long Tall Sally."

4. He toured with the Beatles and the Stones in England before the British invasion.

5. Little Richard and James Brown were best friends and knew each other since they were teenagers. The 2 superstars even played as a team on Wheel of Fortune.