THE GUY CAN’T HELP IT Little Richard, arguably one of the greatest performers in rock and roll history, is playing in Texas this month at Galveston’s Grand 1894 Opera House on September 28 and 29.
So you’re coming to Galveston. Have you ever been to that part of Texas before?
I used to live in Houston when I was a kid. I lived in the Fifth Ward. That’s when they had the Shamrock Hotel. I think I was there for about a year, and I used to go out to La Marque and Galveston. In Houston I was working in a club called the Club Matinee. I was a teenager, and I wasn’t famous, but everyone would pack in to see me. I had a group called the Temple Toppers. They had met me in Nashville, Tennessee, and they brought me to Houston with them to get in touch with Don Robey. He had Peacock Records in Houston. I was booked out of Houston by Evelyn Johnson.
You have an amazing memory. That was a long time ago.
Oh, my God, yes. “A long time ago” ain’t the word. That’s what they call “back yonder.” So, yes, I’m retiring from live performance at the end of the year. And I want everybody in that area who wants to see me to come out, because this is it.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be like Mike. I want to fly through the air and go to the hoops. I say that in my act on the stage. I’ll be drinking Gatorade, and I’ll say, “I want to be like Mike. I want to fly to the piano.”
Are you going to do any more writing?
No. Not now. I’ll be seventy years old at the end of this year, and I just want to relax.
If you were going to write your autobiography again, is there anything you would include or not include?
Yes. I would tell some of the good things that weren’t said.
It’s like this: There are a lot of good people in the world, and there are a lot of people that are not good. But I think there are more good. If there weren’t, the world would go under completely. And I’m just glad that the Lord allowed me to be here in this stage of my life to spread love and joy. ‘Cause we all need each other. God has built this thing regardless of what color, race, or creed we are. That’s why I’m going to travel the world and teach that God wants us to love everybody regardless of whether they are nasty, raggedy, black, white, red, or yellow.
That’s a nice message. Your message was a little different when you were younger wasn’t it?
Yes. When you’re younger, you think you’re invincible and you think about yourself. You want to have a good time.
You pushed the envelope and got away with it?
Yes. I’ve always been up-front, and I’ve always told it like it was. Even if nobody liked it, I still said it.
But you did have to change the words to “Tutti Frutti” a little bit?
Oh, yes. Now it wouldn’t be considered anything, but back in those days it was—”Tutti frutti, good booty” and the stuff like that. Today it wouldn’t be looked down on. But I never did sing it that way on the stage.
I don’t think it would have been the hit that it was.
No, no, no! “Tutti frutti, oh, rutti” was better, much better. Thank God for that.
(See Galveston: Music/Dance.)