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Little Richard’s joyful exuberance changed the nature of music

By Paul Lever  

Performing in Germany in 1962. Photo: SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA Images.

This is, most music critics agree, the greatest intro to any rock ‘n’ roll record. Indeed, many would say the greatest rock ‘n’ roll record itself. Little Richard, who died on Saturday at the age of 87, recorded many classic songs—”Lucille,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Good Golly Miss Molly”among others. But “Tutti Frutti” was his masterpiece. He recorded it in September 1955. It changed the nature of popular music.

He was born Richard Penniman in Macon, Georgia. His family lived in…

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