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Season 3 Episode 12 | Little Richard
Episode 1218th September 2023 • Queernundrum Podcast • Holly Greystone and Gary Thoren
00:00:00 00:55:18

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Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman, in 1932 Georgia. He was a trailblazing musician, singer, and songwriter whose contributions to the world of music are immeasurable. He is often referred to as the "Architect of Rock 'n' Roll" due to his pioneering role in shaping the genre during its formative years in the 1950s.

Richard's musical journey began at an early age. Growing up in a deeply religious family, he sang gospel music in church, developing a powerful and dynamic vocal style that would later become his trademark.

In the mid-1950s, Little Richard burst onto the music scene with a string of hits that would forever change the landscape of popular music. His energetic, flamboyant stage presence and wild piano playing, combined with his unmistakable voice, created a unique and electrifying sound. His breakthrough came with the song "Tutti Frutti" in 1955, followed by classics like "Long Tall Sally," "Lucille," and "Good Golly, Miss Molly." These hits not only topped the charts but also had a profound influence on future generations of musicians.

Little Richard's impact on the development of rock 'n' roll cannot be overstated. He helped bridge the gap between rhythm and blues and rock, infusing the genre with a frenetic energy and a sense of liberation. His gender-bending, flamboyant style challenged traditional notions of masculinity and sexuality in the conservative 1950s.

Despite his groundbreaking success, Richard faced numerous challenges and struggles. He grappled with issues related to his sexuality and identity, ultimately identifying as gay, though he had a complex relationship with his own orientation due to societal norms of the era. His life also saw periods of substance abuse and financial troubles. However, his resilience and enduring love for music kept him in the spotlight.

In the late 1950s, Little Richard experienced a religious conversion and withdrew from the music industry to become a preacher. He returned to recording and performing in subsequent years, often balancing his dual roles as a musician and a minister. This phase of his career saw him release gospel and spiritual music, reflecting his deep faith.

Throughout his lifetime, Little Richard received numerous accolades and honors for his contributions to music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists, including The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Prince, and David Bowie.

Little Richard's impact extended beyond his music. He challenged racial segregation in the American South during the Jim Crow era by refusing to perform for segregated audiences. His actions contributed to breaking down racial barriers in the music industry, paving the way for future Black artists.

News & notes:

Hot Headlines: “Kansas to no longer change trans people’s birth certificates to reflect gender identities” | “Tennessee elects its first transgender lawmaker” | “Alabama Public Library Service votes to create a list of inappropriate books for kids”


Bands no, not those kind. More bans on LGBTQ:

As another academic year gets underway, more school boards across the country are debating banning LGBTQ Pride flags, Two California school districts banned the display of LGBTQ pride flags Tuesday as organizations and municipalities move to limit flags on display, often citing the controversy around them. – USA Today The American Civil Liberties Union teamed up with the Gilbert Baker Foundation this year to create legal resources for communities across the country to fight back against proposals to ban the Pride flag.

Over in Cleveland: Cleveland Catholic diocese (read if yourself)

Elliot Page: hopes his new film 'Close to You' cracks open hearts and minds – according NBC News “The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday, explores the story of Page’s character Sam, who returns home after gender transition for a family reunion, dreading the awkward questions and comments that he is likely to encounter.

The film, which in part parallels Page’s life, is co-written by Page and Dominic Savage who also directed the film.”

Lyft: adds feature to match women and nonbinary riders with drivers of same gender - Lyft says it is ramping up its efforts to provide women and nonbinary users worry-free rides, whether they’re the rider or the driver. – NBC News

Intro music by Jahzzar “Please Listen Carefully” "Jahzzar ( CC BY-SA" and Outro music by Scott Holmes “Acoustic Indie Folk” @

Editor: H. Greystone via FinalCut Pro

Writer: G. Thoren