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Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman, December 5, 1932) is a pioneer in the early development of rock and roll. His early recording career in the 1950s was a mix of blues music and rhythm and blues, heavily steeped in gospel music.
Richard Penniman sent a demo tape to Specialty Records in 1955, and met for a recording session in New Orleans. During a break in that session, Richard began singing an impromptu recital of "Tutti Frutti", an obscene, lusty song popular at the time. The song is his most distinctive hit, with a saxophone and piano beat and swift rhythm (and cleaned up lyrics). In the next few years, Richard had several more hits, including "Long Tall Sally", "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Jenny, Jenny" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly".
Little Richard quit the music business suddenly in 1957, while in the middle of an Australian tour; he enrolled in a Christian university in Alabama. While Specialty Records released a few new songs based on past sessions, Richard did little musically, releasing some gospel songs in the early 1960s.
Since then, Little Richard has had a periodic career in movies, as well as releasing occasional symbols and enduring as one of the legendary pioneers of rock and roll. In 1986, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened, Little Richard was among the first of the inductees.