Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Don and Dewey

I felt like needing to be a bit jaunty today so I opted for something uplifting and bouncy. Don and Dewey hit the mark.

They were signed to the Specialty label who were trying to cultivate new Rock ‘n’ Roll stars in the mold of Little Richard.

They didn’t really have a hit but wrote and recorded a number of other songs recorded by big stars – such as Farmer John, I’m Leaving It All Up To You and Justine.

They were part Rock ‘n’ Roll and part R&B – a kind of precursor for Soul and acts like Sam and Dave.

I like their power, enthusiasm and the way their two voices duel. In real life they hated one another!

So today it’s Don and Dewey! They’ll blow your ears off!!

The USA Blues Trail – Bo Diddley and McComb

Bo Diddley used to busk on the corner in McComb. One day a car drew up, a guy leaned out and said ‘Jump in, man. I’m gonna make you a star.’

Bo Diddley was a genius – a macho, struttin’ bluesman who took that shuffle beat and made it his own. He was instrumental in Rock ‘n’ Roll and every R&B band from the UK British Boom played Bo Diddley songs – From the Stones and Yardbirds to the Animals and Prettythings.

Bo Diddley rules.

I met him in 1981 when he played in Hull. We went backstage to get albums signed and I had my picture taken with him. What a moment. He was a very friendly guy.

So when we did our Blues Trail in Mississippi and Lousianna I had to visit McComb and stand on that corner where Bo Diddley had played!

Quite a thrill.

Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Larry Williams

This was a bit of a last minute choice. My back was hurting and I thought I needed something with a bit of zing to raise my mood!

Larry Williams should have been a megastar. He’s as good as any of the other Rockers with a string of great rockin’ songs – Slow Down, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Bony Mononie, Bad Boy, She Said Yeah and Short Fat Fannie.

He came out of New Orleans and was always in the shadow of Little Richard.  It didn’t help that Larry became a bit of a gun totin’ gangster. He was pimping and selling drugs – a career that ended up with him being shot in the head (reported as suicide but open to debate).

Today I’m going to play my Larry Williams real loud!!

Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Jerry Lee Lewis

The house pianist for Sun records should keep me feeling exuberant!

Jerry Lee Lewis – the dynamite on a piano. He was always vying with Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley as to who was the real king of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Who cares?? They all produced some tracks that were on fire!!

The man could sure rattle those ivories!! His piano was on fire – at least it truly was when he set fire to it that night when he didn’t get top billing! He doused it in petrol and set fire to it!! Wish I’d been there!

I only got to see him one – at a club over in Bradford. He was on a double bill with Chuck Berry. I took my youngest son. Chuck and Jerry were both on top form!!

I love Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!

Today I’m playing some Roaring Jerry Lee to set my blood coursing!!!!!

Poetry – Little Richard’s Been and Gone

Little Richard’s Been and Gone

 

Little Richard’s been and gone.

Left me here to sing his song.

Without him here it feels so wrong.

Little Richard’s been and gone.

 

Tuttie Frutti, Long Tall Sally.

So many songs right up my alley;

Too many for us to tally.

Lucille, Rip it up, Ready Teddy.

 

Little Richard’s been and gone.

Left me here to sing his song.

Without him here it feels so wrong.

Little Richard’s been and gone.

 

Opher – 10.5.2020

Poetry – Goodbye Little Richard

Little Richard was the King

 

Chuck and Bo now Little Richard;

Elvis, Gene and Buddy,

Rock ‘n’ Roll is decimated

Soon they’ll be nobody.

 

Little Richard was the King

Who really rocked the joint.

We could argue over that

But what’s the point?

 

Goodbye Richard Penniman

The world’s a sadder place

You sent me rockin’

Into outer space!

 

I’ll miss you man!!

 

Opher – 9.5.2020

Little Richard – Rip It Up!!

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……….

Tributes to Rock Genius – Little Richard

Tributes to Rock Genius – Little Richard

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Little Richard

Little Richard was undoubtedly the most raucous and flamboyant of the early Rock ‘n’ Rollers. His wild act and set the pace. His voice was the loudest and the best. His material was the most raw and rocking. Elvis copied a number of his songs which became Rock ‘n’ Roll standards – ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Rip it Up’, ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, ‘Ready Teddy’ and ‘Slippin’ ‘n’ Slidin’’.

For a time he could not do any wrong.

I fell in love with him the first time I heard him and his first album ‘Here’s Little Richard’ got played to death in my house to the background shouts of ‘Turn it down’. I even went so far as to do a living jukebox at my school fete featuring me, my Dansette and Little Richard’s album. I played tracks on request for the princely sum of sixpence (2.5 pence). I made a few quid and Little Richard blasted out right over the school field all afternoon. There were plenty of takers.

Richard Penniman was something of a mixed up soul. He was a black bisexual man from the Deep South who had been brought up in the Bible Belt and had religion seasoned into him. It didn’t sit easy with his penchant for R&B (the music of the devil) and a love of orgies. He found it, like many others from the same region, hard to reconcile.

Richard started out in R&B after emerging from Gospel singing in the church. His voice and appearance created quite a stir but he was confined to the chitlin circuit and Black record labels. That all changed in 1954. He signed to Specialty and produced the dynamite single ‘Tutti Frutti’. There was no looking back. That single set the tone and created a whole act. The R&B was jettisoned and the Rock ‘n’ Roll persona was adopted. He was wild.

In the fifties he vied with Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They were all superb but Little Richard was on fire.

He made that cross-over to the White audiences and got his records played on White radio. You cannot emphasise what a big deal that was back in those shadowy days of segregation. He broke down barriers.

I watched him perform on BBC in the early sixties. I was about thirteen and my sixteen stone Nan was sitting next to me loving it. He stood at the piano, pounding it with his hands, bottom and foot. The sweat flew off him. His voice roared and the songs pounded. This was Rock ‘n’ Roll. It didn’t get any better than this. Little Richard was loud, aggressive and really rocked. His voice whooped and roared. Nobody else came close.

With his great pompadour hairstyle, pencil thin moustache and great oversize suits he looked the part. The band were tight. Everything worked.

But that first brief fiery album and singles were about it.

On a tour of Australia an engine on his jet caught fire and Little Richard decided that was enough. It was a sign from God to quit his low-down ways. He threw his rings off the Sydney Harbour Bridge, gave up Rock ‘n’ Roll and went into Gospel singing and preaching.

Specialty had lost their star and tried vainly to recapture and recreate the style with singers such as Esquerita and Don and Dewy. The nearest they got was the brilliant Larry Williams.

In the sixties the allure was too great and Richard went back into Rock. But it was weird. The music scene had moved on. Rock ‘n’ Roll was no longer the rage. The Beatles were on the scene. Richard took on a most peculiar persona with sequins, heavy make-up and a strange hairstyle. He made his living doing live versions of his early Rock stuff with some new rather mediocre albums along the way. At one stage he even had Jimi Hendrix in his band. His act was still wild, his voice was still great, but he was no longer producing that raw Rock ‘n’ Roll and had this strange camp style that seemed at odds with the music. The act was almost a parody and send-up. You wanted to shake him and get him to go back producing the wild, raucous Rock of the fifties. There are times when it is not good to move with the times. It felt as if he was being pulled in different directions. Apart from the odd stand-out track there was little to get excited about. The music did not measure up to those 1950s monsters.

I saw him at a gig in Bradford in the 2000s and it was one of the strangest ever. Little Richard seemed split in three. There was one third great Rock ‘n’ Roll, one third camp acting (Oooh get outa here!) and one third preaching. I suppose that was the only way he could reconcile it all.

Little Richard was one of the early pioneers of Rock Music. He set the trend. His exciting style was the greatest of all. No other Rock ‘n’ Roller was as visceral. Little Richard put the dynamite in Rock ‘n’ Roll.

We’ll remember those early days.

If you are liking my tributes you might like my book. You will find numerous brilliant artists you may never have heard of plus all the familiar ones. Why not find out what I’ve got to say about them?

Today’s music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Elvis Presley

There’s only one Elvis Presley for me – that’s the real one who recorded for Sun.

The later ones were all parodies.

All I listen to are the Sun recordings and the RCA ones he recorded before joining the army. After that he made all those dreadful films and became a Pop singer – all the glitz and plastic.

But in those first years he was original. His look with the greased hair, the ducktail and quiff, the long sideburns and contrasting clothes (pink jacket, black shirt) was highly original and striking. His movements were different. The material and excitement was incredible.

But the success caused him to become self-conscious. What had been natural became a performance – a parody. Management altered his appearance, his material, his sound and guided him into the middle of the road.

Such a shame.

But that early stuff was superb. That is what I will be playing loud!!