Such was the excitement Richard generated – both vocally and with the rhythmic power that defined his early recordings – that his music appealed to a white audience at the time when segregation was still prevalent.
Today, it is hard to imagine the impact of that tune and its significance in breaking down barriers, but its liberating influence can genuinely be felt on every single generation of rock’n’roll musicians that have followed in its wake.
“For someone singing rock’n’roll, Little Richard was the icon,” said Angus Young, Kerrang!’s first-ever cover star, when asked about Richard’s significance in 2003.
Richard’s huge hits in the ’50s – which included Rip It Up, Good Golly Miss Molly and Long Tall Sally – saw him define rock’n’roll as a cultural force. So too did his appearance in the 1956 film, The Girl Can’t Help It – the movie inspiring a bunch of teenagers at the time to start their own bands. Lemmy Kilmister was among them.
“Forget art and all that – that’s bullshit. If you can send that shiver down a kid’s back then that’s what it’s all about. I’m trying to give them that feeling I felt the first time I heard Good Golly Miss Molly,” he told Kerrang! in 2006, discussing his life’s work with Motörhead.