Little Richard was born as Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, on December 5, 1932. Growing up in the southern US state, he absorbed the rhythms of gospel music and the influences of New Orleans, blending them into his own piano-laden extravaganzas.
His father was a preacher who also ran a nightclub, and his mother was a devout Baptist.
“I was born in the slums. My daddy sold whiskey, bootleg whiskey,” Little Richard told Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.
The singer left home in his teens after disagreements with his father who initially didn’t support his music.
“My daddy wanted seven boys, and I had spoiled it, because I was gay,” he later said.
Little Richard was one of 12 children, and said he had started singing because he wanted to stand out from his siblings.
His music was embraced by both black and white fans at a time when parts of the US were still segregated, and concerts had a rope up the centre of the auditorium to divide people by color.
Little Richard had his biggest hits in the 1950s and was known for his exuberant performances, shrieks, raspy voice and flamboyant outfits. He sold more than 30 million records worldwide.
However, it was not just a celebration: a number of artists chose to use the occasion to make impassioned pleas and remember lost friends.
Late rapper Tupac Shakur‘s award was collected by his friend, fellow rapper Snoop Dogg.
Joan Baez – as known for her activism as her singing – made a rallying call for resistance in the face of “the new political cultural reality”.
Image source Flickr
The 76-year-old folk singer, who admitted most younger people had never heard her work, made a return to the spotlight this week when her song Nasty Man went viral.
Joan Baez – imitating Donald Trump’s particular way of speaking – told the audience gathered at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center: “Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion a priority. Let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge, to welcome the tired and the poor.”
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder tackled climate change, saying: “We cannot be the generation that history will look back upon and wonder, why didn’t they do everything humanly possible to solve this biggest crisis of our time?”
Snoop Dogg was on hand to collect Tupac Shakur’s trophy, more than two decades after he was shot dead in Las Vegas.
Calling Tupac “the greatest rapper of all time”, Snoop Dogg recalled how they were just “two black boys struggling to become men”, adding: “To be human is to be many things at once: strong and vulnerable, hard-headed and intellectual, courageous and afraid, loving and vengeful, revolutionary and, oh yeah… gangsta!”
Tributes were also paid to 1986 Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Berry, who died last month aged 90, with ELO playing one of his best known hits – Roll Over Beethoven.
Meanwhile, Nile Rodgers – lead guitarist of disco band Chic – was recognized for his contribution to production.
Nirvana has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside the likes of Kiss and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
REM’s Michael Stipe inducted the group, saying: “Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard.
“Nirvana were kicking against the mainstream. They spoke truth and a lot of people listened.”
Nirvana’s career was cut short by Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. His widow, Courtney Love, attended the ceremony.
Nirvana received their place in the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility
“You know, I have a big speech, but I’m not going to say it,” Courtney Love said, before hugging Kurt Cobain’s bandmates Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.
“That’s it,” she concluded.
“I just wish Kurt was here to do this.”
Dave Grohl, Nirvana’s drummer and now frontman of rock group Foo Fighters, paid tribute to the musicians who formed the early line-ups of Nirvana, in particular drummer Chad Channing, who he singled out for his contributions to the band’s breakthrough album Nevermind.
Bass guitarist Kris Novoselic added: “Nirvana fans walk up to me every day and say thank you for the music.
“When I hear that, I think of Kurt Cobain.”
Nirvana received their place in the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Artists can only be considered for the honor 25 years after their first release.
Veteran rock band Kiss has pulled out of their performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in a disagreement over their line-up.
Kiss failed to decide which members would be on stage for the concert on April 10.
They said on their website the “memory of those times” would not be served by a reunion of the original line-up.
Other inductees who will be honored in New York include Nirvana, Peter Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt.
Musical acts are eligible to be elevated to the Hall of Fame 25 years after their first release.
Kiss, famous for their elaborate stage make-up and costumes, first formed in 1973, including current band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
Kiss has pulled out of their performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in a disagreement over their line-up
Originals Ace Frehley and Peter Criss subsequently quit the group, which continued with different musicians.
Their statement continued: “To bring this to a quick end, we have decided not to play in any line-up, and we will focus our attention on celebrating our induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
“This is understandably an emotional situation where there is no way to please everyone.”
Ace Frehley claimed Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had rejected a reunion with their original bandmates.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s what the fans wanted, it’s what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wanted, and it’s not gonna happen,” he told DJ Eddie Trunk.
The band’s statement denied that they had ever scotched a reunion with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. This would have marked the original quartet’s first performance together in more than 13 years, at the end of a reunion which lasted from 1996-2000.
Ace Frehley and Peter Criss have not confirmed if they will attend the ceremony.
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