Little Richard dies at 87

Little Richard’s songs - remembering his biggest hits

There is no question that Little Richard was a hit-making machine.

Between 1955 and 1958, Little Richard bopped into the Top 5 on the Billboard R&B charts nine times.

His work prior to that, on RCA Victor (which he recorded in Atlanta in the early-‘50s) and the Peacock record label (“Why Did You Leave Me,” “Get Rich Quick” and a handful of other singles) didn’t attract much radio play. But when “Here’s Little Richard,” his Specialty debut, arrived in 1957, it was stocked with six of his previous R&B hits.

Here are the nine biggest Billboard appearances from the legendary musician, who died on May 9.

“Tutti Frutti” (1955, No. 2): All you need to hear is the opening, “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!” and you know that rock ‘n’ roll had arrived. The title, by the way, means “all fruits” in Italian.

“Long Tall Sally” (1956, No. 1): The best-selling 45 in the in history of Specialty Records, the song, spotlighting Little Richard’s distinctive boogie piano, was recorded in New Orleans’ famed J&M Studio.

“Slippin’ and Slidin’” (1956, No. 2): The B-side to “Long Tall Sally,” the song was recorded by John Lennon for his 1975 “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album and also performed by The Beatles during the “Get Back” sessions.”

“Rip it Up” (1956, No. 1)Although Bill Haley and his Comets recorded a version the same year, Little Richard’s stayed at No. 1 on the R&B charts for two weeks, while the Haley’s rendition reached No. 25 on Billboard’s pop chart. 

“Lucille” (1957, No. 1): In 2002, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also a popular Beatles cover and in 1983, Waylon Jennings hit No. 1 with his version. 

“Send Me Some Lovin’” (1957, No. 3): Also recorded in New Orleans, the song became a favorite for other recording artists, including The Crickets, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and Dean Martin. 

“Jenny, Jenny” (1957, No. 2): Little Richard recorded this hit three more times in his career following its initial chart debut – in 1966 (“The Incredible Little Richard Sings His Greatest Hits – Live!”), the 1967 live album, “Little Richard’s Greatest Hits: Recorded Live!”) and for the 1976 album, “Little Richard Live.”

“Keep-A-Knockin’” (1957, No. 2): One of his biggest pop culture staples, the song has appeared on the ‘90s sitcom “Full House” (with Little Richard performing it), as the introduction to “Friday Night Videos,” in the trailer for “Home Alone” and is referenced in Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”

“Good Golly Miss Molly” (1958, No. 4): Along with “Tutti Frutti,” this piano rocker is among the most heralded in Little Richard’s catalog. The musician has said he was inspired by Ike Turner’s piano intro to “Rocket 88,” and turned the song into a classic that landed at No. 94 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. 

»»Obituary: Macon native and music icon Little Richard dies at 87

»»Reaction from around the world

»»PHOTOS: Little Richard through the years

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»»READ AND SIGN the online guestbook for Little Richard 

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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