Richard Wayne Penniman, a.k.a. “Little Richard,” is born in Macon, Georgia.
Art Rupe of Hollywood-based Specialty Records receives a demo tape from Little Richard. Contracts are sent out to Richard’s manager on March 4th.
Little Richard enters Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios in New Orleans for the first time. Over the next year he’ll record some of the greatest sides in rock and roll history with producer Bumps Blackwell and the cream of bandleader Dave Bartholomew’s musical troupe.
Little Richard’s “Tutti-Frutti” crosses over from the R&B to the pop chart, rising to #17. Elvis Presley performs “Tutti-Frutti” twice on national TV in February.
Little Richard’s biggest hit, “Long Tall Sally” released on Specialty Records, tops the R&B chart for eight weeks and reaches #6 on the pop chart. Eight years later, in April 1964, the Beatles’ version of “Long Tall Sally” appears on The Beatles’ Second Album.
Little Richard hits #2 on the R&B chart and #33 (6/30) on the pop chart with “Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’)” and #1 on the R&B chart and #17 (8/04) on the pop chart with “Rip It Up”. Both singles are released on Specialty Records.
The last of Little Richard’s New Orleans recording sessions yields a bevy of blockbusters, including “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Jenny Jenny” and “The Girl Can’t Help It.”
The film ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ is released. Little Richard performs three songs, including the title track. Other rockers who appear in the film include Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Fats Domino and the Platters.
Little Richard hits #1 on the R&B chart and #21 (4/13) on the pop chart with “Lucille”, #3 on the R&B chart with “Send Me Some Lovin’”, #2 on the R&B chart and #10 (7/08) on the pop chart with “Jenny, Jenny” and #2 on the R&B chart and #8 (10/28) on the pop chart with “Keep A Knockin’.” All four singles are released on Specialty Records.
On the fifth date of a two-week tour of Australia, Little Richard suddenly abandons rock and roll for religion. In January 1958, he enters Oakwood Theological College in Huntsville, Alabama.
Little Richard hits #4 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart with the Specialty release “Good Golly, Miss Molly”.
‘Little Richard Sings Gospel’ is issued on the 20th Century label. He continues to record gospel in the coming years for the Mercury and Atlantic labels, working with such producers as Jerry Wexler and Quincy Jones.
Little Richard begins a rock and roll comeback tour in Britain. In November, he shares the bill at Hamburg’s Star Club with the Beatles.
Recording sessions for the Vee-Jay label find Little Richard returning to his rock and roll roots with a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix on guitar.
Jimi Hendrix goes to New York with Little Richard’s band and takes a room at the Theresa Hotel. Over the next several months, he will play with Little Richard, King Curtis, Joey Dee and the Starlighters and the Isley Brothers. He also takes a job with a club band called Curtis Knight and the Squires.
Little Richard’s Greatest Hits, a live collection of older classics cut for the Okeh label, becomes his first LP in ten years to make Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.
The film ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills’, featuring Little Richard in a memorable role, is released.
Once again in demand, Little Richard appears at a rock and roll revival in Toronto with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.
Little Richard quit music at the height of his fame to attend Oakwood theological college in Huntsville, Alabama. Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman, received a BA from the college and later became ordained as a Seventh Day Adventist minister.
‘The Rill Thing’, the first of three fine albums for the Reprise label, is released. It is followed by ‘The King of Rock and Roll’ (October 1971) and ‘The Second Coming’ (September 1972). The last of these reunites Little Richard with the core crew from his historic Fifties sessions in New Orleans.
Little Richard becomes a traveling Bible salesman and preacher, having again walked away from rock and roll to embrace evangelical Christianity following a period of drug and alcohol abuse. In 1979, he will release the gospel album God’s Beautiful City.
Little Richard is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner, held in New York City. Because he’s recuperating from an automobile accident, he cannot attend but sends a videotaped message.
Little Richard receives a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 35th annual Grammy Awards.
Little Richard receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.