Little Richard and band perform "Lucille"
Today December 5th, 2011 rock n roll living legend Little Richard celebrates his 79th birthday. The justifiably self-proclaimed "architect of rock and roll," whose influences are wide and reaching up to this day, began his music career back in the 1940's while he was still in his teens but it wasn't until the mid 1950's, under the mentorship of Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, that the artist born Richard Wayne Penniman's career took off in a major way. That was when he unleashed his full on wild showman delivery of funk fused rock n roll unlike anyone else, and cranked a jaw-dropping series of hit singles (two and a half dozen hit singles in a three year period!).
These Little Richard hits included such time worn rock n roll classics as "Tutti Frutti," "Rip It Up", "Lucille" (above), "Jenny, Jenny", "Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Keep A-Knockin'." You can find these plus many more Little Richard gems on various releases at Amoeba Music (his official discography lists approximately 50 album releases over the decades including many Christian/gospel ones) but personally I find his greatest hits packages such as 2006's Little Richard 20 Greatest Hits CD to always be good reliable purchases - and good holiday gift ideas too.
If you are a gigantic music fan, you've probably already listened to and absorbed Jimi Hendrix' music to the point where you might think you never ever need to hear it again. I know the feeling-- when I was in high school Jimi was one of the primary artists I listened to, over and over and over again to the point of oblivion.
So to you, the jaded, I say, hold up! Just when you think you've seen and heard everything (and maybe you have, but this was new to me...), here comes the fairly recent reissue of the 1973 documentary Jimi Hendrix, which was directed by Joe Boyd, John Head III and Gary Weis. I read about it in Joe Boyd's White Bicycles, and finally got my hands on a copy of the movie.
Producer extraordinaire Boyd was heartbroken by the bumps that came along with putting together this film. One thing he was dead on about, and what really makes this film compelling above all others about Hendrix, is that the interviews were conducted only 3 years after Hendrix' death, and both his contradictory and brilliant presence and the awe he inspired in his fellow musicians is extremely palpable. Heck, you can see it written all over Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend's still-freaked-out faces!
And then there are the girlfriends, so many of them. The one that stands out is Fayne Pridgon, who he met in Harlem and dated throughout the sixties. She's quite the feisty gal, and her stories about Hendrix are hilarious-- her manner of speaking is unnervingly similar to Jimi's. Her mother had a heavy love/hate relationship with Hendrix, which Fayne details in alternatively sad and silly tales. She remembers wide-eyed Jimi bringing home a Dylan record and flipping out that she tried to leave the room to go to the bathroom during one of the songs, nearly missing the best part! She also tells a great story about being on the subway with Jimi and their cats, who got loose.
Roadies and managers are also interviewed, folks I had never seen in other documentaries. Their memories are fresh: a roadie recalls having to stand behind the amps and hold them up while Jimi humped and flailed away on the front of the Marshall stack; a manager remembers landing in London in 1970 to a pack of paparazzi and moving aside, only to have his arm firmly grabbed by still-shy Jimi, who didn't want to be left alone with the press.