Misinformation On The Internet

In the last week I’ve received the following link from three different friends who know that I am a child of rock & roll and that I especially love good, old-fashion, whore house piano. The link is always presented as “rare footage of Little Richard when he was just starting out in the music biz’ … from some movie with Van Johnson ..”

Well, I hate to rain on everyone’s parade (if you believe that statement you probably also believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and that Republicans only work for the interests of ordinary people) but that’s NOT Little Richard.

It’s Frank Isaac Robinson who was known in his early career as Sugar Chile Robinson. He won a talent show at the Paradise Theatre in Detroit at the age of three, and in 1945 played guest spots at the theatre with Lionel Hampton. That clip is from the movie No Leave, No Love. In 1946, he played for President Harry S. Truman at the White House at the, shouting out “How’m I Doin’, Mr President?”

Here’s a clip from when he was playing with Count Basie’s band:

He stopped recording in 1952, later explaining: “I wanted to go to school… I wanted some school background in me and I asked my Dad if I could stop, and I went to school because I honestly wanted my college diploma.” He earned a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan.

He gave up music for a long time In recent years he has made a comeback as a musician with the help of the American Music Research Foundation.

Little Richard (née Richard Wayne Penniman) on the other hand didn’t begin performing on stage and on the road in 1945, when he was in his early teens although he and his family performed in local churches as The Penniman Singers. At that time he was called “War Hawk” because of his loud, screaming singing voice. In October 1951, he began recording “jump blues” records for RCA Camden.

Little Richard’s first film performance was in Allen Freed’s movie The Girl Can’t Help It in 1956:

The original title of the song was “Tutti Frutti, good booty” but was cleaned up to “Tutti Frutti, aw-rooty”

While the song hasn’t changed in the intervening half century Little Richard sure has:

In early October 1957, on the fifth date of a two-week tour of Australia was flying from Melbourne to appear in front of 40,000 fans in concert in Sydney Shocked by the red hot appearance of the engines against the night sky, he envisioned angels holding up the plane. Then, while he performed at the stadium, he was shaken by the sight of a ball of fire that he watched streak across the sky overhead. He took what was actually the launching of Sputnik 1 as another sign to quit show business and follow God. The plane that he was originally scheduled to fly back home on ended up crashing in the Pacific Ocean which he took as confirmation that he was doing what God wanted him to do and he quit at the height of his career.

rom October 1957 to 1962, Little Richard only recorded gospel music:

As we all know he returned to secular music in the ’80s. Little Richard is a complicated guy and if you’re interested there’s a great biography of him on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Richard

You can also read a lot more about Sugar Chile Robinson, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Chile_Robinson

Class dismissed, children. There will be no test on this subject.


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2 responses to “Misinformation On The Internet

  1. L.T.

    Excellent blog Richard ! Enjoyed it. No doubt hot in Panama but heat index in S.E. Ma. 110 deg today !

    Glad you enjoyed it and took the time to leave a comment, L.T. Hot in Panama? Depends on where you are. As I’m writing this at 11:26 a.m. in Potrerillos Arriba some 2,500 feet up the mountain the weather station located about a quarter mile away from my house reports on Weather Hawk that the temperature is 70.8F with an expected high of 72.1F. Now, going down to David, our major city, here, the temp according to Weather Underground it’s 79F with a “feels like” temp of 88F.

    For anyone who might be reading these comments, L.T. as we call him, was the very first captain I worked under when I started my career on boats nearly 40 years ago. Larry went on to become the master of the Woods Hole Oceanographic’s R/V Oceanus. Seeing his ship in Port Everglades just before Christmas ’88 had a direct bearing on my getting the job as skipper of the Jolie Aire over in Antibes, France.

  2. What a neat post! I remember Tutti Frutti, of course, and to be frank, those lyrics (aw, rooty) never made any sense to me. Glad to know what the original words were.

    I’ve been trying to think of another musician who gave up performing to go to college. No one comes to mind just now, although there surely have been some. I suspect there aren’t many, though – probably more members of the 27 Club, when you get right down to it.

    I’ve got serious weather envy, reading your temp reports. Hot, hotter and unbearable has been about it around here. I confess I’ve thought a time or two that Mom’s timing was impeccable. As long as I’ve had to be involved with clearing out her apartment, etc., I’d just as soon be doing it when it’s too hot to varnish, anyhow. But I’ve turned in the keys to the apartment and the paperwork’s about done. A few more days of sorting-out at my place and all will be done. I’m ready not just to get “back in the routine”, but to figure out what the new routine is going to be!