Little Richard, gender-bender progenitor needs his propers

Originally published at:


With due respect to both the writer and Little Richard himself, the singer being hailed here as a style innovator owes much of what HE was both stylistically & musically to Esquerita: The pompadour, the pencil mustache, the banging piano style, and even the famous “woo.” Little Richard even admitted that he was very much influenced by Esquerita.


Excellent point, Brian. I was only thinking of Richard’s impact on others after him. I added a paren re: Richard’s own debt to Esquerita. Thanks.


Leper. It’s leper.


Well done Gareth.

You’re thinking of the Mengele effect

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You know, the leopard Messiah. That’s from Ziggy Starbucks and the Spy Kids From Morrisville?



Gender-bender turned hot gospeller!

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One thing that no one seems to have picked up on when remembering Little RIchard was the pioneering use of distortion in his sound. A lot of the impact of Tutti Frutti for example comes from his voice being way up front in the mix (such as it was in those days) and overloading the mic so that the sound bleeds off into a raw fuzzed edge creating a sense of feral urgency that no one else in rock and roll had at that point. For everyone else distortion was a bug, not a feature and other recordings of the period are trying hard to eliminate distortion on everything as much as possible. It wasn’t truly embraced elsewhere until the Kinks dirty fuzzed up guitar on You Really Got Me in 1964


I say it’s leopard. Fight me, bruh.


A leper ate my face?

I guess Douglas Adams got it wrong, too, seeing as lepers are typically outcast. That sign in the basement? “Beware of the leper

Google “marty robbins fuzz guitar” for another account of the entry of fuzz into the pop-music sonic environment.

While some recording engineers might have been trying to tame overdriven mikes, others didn’t seem much bothered by it–listen to early Howlin’ Wolf, for example, the early-1950s tracks on “Moanin’ in the Moonlight.” I strongly suspect that Wolf’s live sound was just as dirty, though later studio sessions are indeed cleaner.

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Agreed. I don’t think it diminishes Richard to note this, especially considering his vocals and piano playing eventually eclipsed Esquerita. I love both artists and you gotta give it up to both!


I’d say that the Kingsmen beat them to it with Louie, Louie in 1963. Which was a much more influential song.
ETA: I’ll also defer to Russell_Letson above.

Jayne Mansfield and Little Richard in this scene from “The Girl Can’t Help It”. Love it! The 1950’s on LSD.

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Totally separate, but I’m genuinely interested in the striking title. But what does the context of ‘propers’ mean? I like language and am not sure what is being said in the here. Can you let me know the intent? Cheers!

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