The flamboyant icon that blazed a trail for rock and roll.
Little Richard exploded the Fifties music scene with his thunderous piano and electrifying stage presence, setting the tone for the future of rock and roll. His unrestrained performances and visceral rhythms were unlike anything audiences had ever seen.
Little Richard on heart and soul of all music1986 Inductee Little Richard speaks on the heart and soul of all music
Little Richard on heart and soul of all music00:01:50
Roberta Flack Inducts Little Richard00:06:40
Little Richard Inducts Otis Redding00:15:57
Little Richard Inducts the Supremes00:07:18
Hall of Fame Essay
Richard Penniman wasn’t exactly on top of the world when he sent a demo tape to Art Rupe of Specialty Records in Los Angeles.
He’d had his share of breaks, but none of his rhythm and blues sides had captured the public’s imagination in a big way or revealed any of the gleefully uninhibited vocal style that would become his trademark.
In 1951, as a teenager with gospel training and church-sponsored piano lessons behind him — not to mention the wealth of experience that comes from being thrown out of your own family’s home at age thirteen — Little Richard won an RCA contract at an audition sponsored by Atlanta radio station WGST. From RCA, he moved to Houston in 1952 and joined Don Robey’s Peacock label.
He has made an important contribution to our musical culture and history
Photography: Kevin Mazur, WireImage
Cleveland, Ohio 44114