December 5: Little Richard is 79-years-old today. “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!”

Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia in 1932, Little Richard, is considered a key performer in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll.
Richard first performed in his early teens, and began his recording career on in October 1951 when he was 19, by singing in a gospel-influenced style of the late-1940s,  His early fifties recordings were not very successful.
In 1955, under the guidance of Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, Penniman began recording in a style he had been performing onstage for years that was unique, over-the-top Gospel-style singing, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections, accompanied by a combination of boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues music.

This new music inspired many of the greatest recording artists of the twentieth century, including James Brown, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and scores of other rhythm & blues, rock, and soul music artists ever since.

As a result, Little Richard was one of the seven initial inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and one of only four - along with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Fats Domino - to also receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award.

While at the height of his popularity in the mid-1950s,  Penniman abruptly quit rock and roll music and became a born-again Christian. In January 1958, he enrolled in and attended Bible college to become a preacher and evangelist and began recording and performing only gospel music for a number of years. He then moved back and forth from rock and roll to the ministry, until he was able to reconcile the two roles in later life.
In March 1964, he brought a fledgling Jimi Hendrix into his band.

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Here's what The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame web site says about Little Richard:
"He claims to be “the architect of rock and roll,” and history would seem to bear out Little Richard’s boast. More than any other performer - save, perhaps, Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly" defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll."


Here are a few of the awards and honors Little Richard has collected during his 60-plus year career:  
  • In 1956, Cashbox awarded Penniman the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for his second hit single "Long Tall Sally."
  • In 1984, "Little Richard" Penniman was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
  • In 1986, Penniman was one of the first group of recording artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • In 1990, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • In 1993, he then received an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
  • In 1994, he was the fourth recording artist (the others being Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown) to be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
  • In 1997, he received the American Music Award of Merit.
  • On May 14, 2002, Little Richard was honored as one of the first three BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards. He was presented the award along with BMI affiliates Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
  • In 2002, he received the NAACP Image Award - Hall of Fame Award for having "distinguished himself as not only an unparalleled musical genius, but also as a unique and innovative performing artist—fusing pure vocal talent with exhilarating showmanship."
  • In 2003, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #8 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • In 2006, he was inducted into the Apollo Theater Legends Hall of Fame, at the same time as Ella Fitzgerald (who was one of the first winners of 'Amateur Night at the Apollo' in 1934) and Gladys Knight & the Pips.
  • In 2007, his 1955 original hit "Tutti Frutti" topped Mojo's The Top 100 Records That Changed The World.
  • In 2008, Penniman was inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame.
  • In 2009, he was formally inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
  • In 2009, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
  • In 2010, The Library Of Congress National Recording Registry added Penniman's original 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti” to its registry, claiming that the hit announced a new era in music: “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!”
  • In September 2010, Little Richard was named GQ's Man of the Year (Legend)