Little Richard – Rip It Up!!

What does Little Richard mean to me? – High energy, visceral excitement!!

I first heard Little Richard when I was thirteen way back in 1962 prior to the Beatles.

The charts were full of tidied up Pop-Rock in the form of Tommy Roe, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Pat Boone – the sanitised Pop Idols. Then there were the British equivalents – Cliff Richard, Billy Fury and Tommy Steele whose brief Rock excursions had been guided back to the middle of the road. That cleaned up Pop had never done much for me. I had been introduced to Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. I liked the excitement of real Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Auntie BBC had hardly played any of that raucous vulgar Rock ‘n’ Roll, particularly of the black variety, so it was all underground and undiscovered – a lodestone of genius waiting to be discovered.

That was when those trembling little thirteen year old fingers somehow alighted on ‘Here’s Little Richard’. I can’t even remember back through fifty five years of life to where I got it from. I think it was an older boy in school who sported a huge pompadour quiff and was also into Chuck Berry who sold it to me.

From the first moment that needle hit the groove with that introductory click and crackle before Tutti Frutti roared out and I was hooked.

I played that album to death. My stand-out tracks were Long Tall Sally, Ready Teddy, Jenny Jenny, She Got it, Tutti Frutti, Slippin’ and Slidin’ and Rip it up. That isn’t to say that the others weren’t great but I was young and I loved the fast stuff – the stuff with that vitality.

I’d never heard anything with such power. That voice blew me away. This was the energy I craved.

At the school fete I set up my dansette and was a jukebox all day. I took all my records but the only one I played was Little Richard. People came along and paid their 6d to hear him booming out and frightening the old folks.

I still have that original album. I’m holding it in my hand this minute. It’s bit scratched up and battered. The cover is a bit tatty and something’s been spilt on it. But I cherish it still. It holds more memories than music.

I took that album along to get it signed by the great man. I got threatened by his heavies who assured me that they’d break it if I dared to take it out. I couldn’t risk that could I? Never mind. He signed my poster (even though it cost me £25!). That’s good enough.

Little Richard was the epitome of Rock and Roll. No-one has surpassed that raw energy.

I’ve got Rip It Up marked out for my remembrance service!

“Rip It Up”

Well, it’s Saturday night and I just got paid,
Fool about my money, don’t try to save,
My heart says go go, have a time,
Saturday night and I’m feelin’ fine,I’m gonna rock it up, I’m gonna rip it up,
I’m gonna shake it up, gonna ball it up,
I’m gonna rock it up, and ball tonight.

Got me a date and I won’t be late,
Picked her up in my 88,
Shag on down by the union hall,
When the joint starts jumpin’ I’ll have a ball,
I’m gonna rock it up…

‘Long about ten I’ll be flying high,
Walk on out unto the sky,
But I don’t care if I spend my dough,
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna be one happy soul,
I’m gonna rock it up……….

2 thoughts on “Little Richard – Rip It Up!!

  1. Being an oldies chart anorak as I am, I have this to say.
    Not all were quite so sanitised. I’d always thought Mike Sarne’s “Come Outside” was fairly risque for the day. John Leyton’s “Johnny Remember Me” was creepy.

    Little Richard had 8 top twenty incredibly good hits 1957-59, then that was it as I think he went into the ministry for some years. He popped back again in 1964 for “Bamalama Loo”, a weak #20, and I wish he hadn’t.

    Tommy Roe – one single in the top 10 in 1962, two in 1963
    Bobby Vee – three top tens in 1961, two in 1962, one in 1963. Who doesn’t love `61’s. “Rubber Ball”?!
    Bobby Rydell – one top ten in 1960, one in 1961, one in 1963. Who doesn’t love `60’s “Wild One”?! A 100% Classic!!
    Fabian – he didn’t have any top twenties ever in UK
    Pat Boone – A Total Mega-Star! 17 top twenties (10 of them top ten) 1955-59, two in 1961, three in 1962 – and never heard of again!
    What was it that you said Opher?

    Cliff Richard – forever in my heart just for doing “Move It” in `58 and “Dynamite” in `59 and for them two, I’ll never hear a bad word said against him.
    Tommy Steele was over by 1961, with his last one at #18 with “The Writing On The Wall”. Yes, exactly.
    Billy Fury had 19 top twenties 1959-65. Never liked him much. But I did like “Wondrous Place” but it didn’t get into the top 20.

    These were the days when a record actually MEANT something.

    1. Eric – those early Specialty singles of Little Richard were explosive. He never regained that though I quite Liked Bama Lama and Get down and Get With It.
      Yes Cliff had a whole string of great Rock ‘n’ Roll singles and tracks (livin’ Lovin’ Doll, My Feet Hit the Ground, Mean Streak, Apron Strings, High Class Baby, Never Mind) and one brilliant album – Cliff – that rocked. After that he became Pop.
      Likewise the Sound of Fury was a great album then he was managed into Pop.
      That cleaned up Pop sound never did it for me. I quite liked Del Shannon though.

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