RIP: Little Richard 1932-2020 & Betty Wright 1953-2020

Richard Penniman, much better known by his stage name of Little Richard passed away on Saturday May 9th. He was born on December 5, 1932.

Little Richard was one of the Rock and Roll greats. his first hit was “Tutti Frutti” in 1956. Some of his other huge hits included “Long Tall Sally”, “Lucille”, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” to “name drop” a few.

For me, I always thought of Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry’ and Chubby Checker as a group of the greats who punctured through both the race and music style barrier. This is especially true of the first three and that list all off who are now gone. This isn’t to dis the great white Rock and Roll performers such as Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and, of course, Elvis.

Little Richard gave up Rock and Roll after a plan that he was on lost an engine and dreams about his death and ultimate damnation. He went then went to college in Alabama and became an ordained minister. By 1964 he was back in rock and roll as an oldies artist.

Richard was a great influence on artists such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.. He was one of the original ten inductees into tThe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and won a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1993.

For much more, I’d recommend the Rolling Stone Magazine article regarding Little Richard which is available here. Another good article about Little Richard is available at

One day later on Sunday May 10, we lost Betty Wright. She notably had the 1972 #6 hit “Clean Up Woman” and several R&B hits including “Tonight Is the Night” and “Where Is the Love,” the later of which earned her a Grammy for Best R&B song of 1975.

She was no light weight behind the scenes either. She founded her own record company and was a significant record producer working with artists such as Tom Jones, The O’Jays, and Joss Stone.

Please see Rolling Stone Magazine for a much more involved article about Betty Wright.

Photo credits: Specialty Records Archives (Little Richard performance photo) and a partial picture of a CD photo (Betty Wright).

Posted by Jon Hall on May 10, 2020 for WREN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *