Little Richard passed away earlier today.
The flamboyant rock-n-roll icon was from a different generation than myself but I’ve always enjoyed hearing his popular r-n-b hits on the radio. Good golly, according to the Associated Press article, the self-proclaimed “architect of rock-n-roll” actually toured in England with opening acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He is truly rock-n-roll royalty.
Although I never saw Little Richard in concert, I did have a chance meeting him with him in May of 2012. By that time he had long before announced his retirement from live performing, although I suspect he had made a private appearance somewhere in town.
My meeting with him came one afternoon when I went to have a late lunch at the Ryan’s on University Drive east of the Parkway. After going through the line I found a table on the sunny side of the dining room and set my entree plates and drink on the table. Then getting ready to hit the salad bar I noticed a large group eating at tables that had been set up banquet style.
Sure enough, at the head of the table, sat the unmistakable, flamboyant icon – with his “towering pompador.” While I was situating my table and waiting on the server Little Richard went to the salad bar. About the time I headed that way he had finished up and met me head on.
It was kind of awkward really and now I don’t remember exactly who said what first. But after looking at each other for a brief moment I said something polite about being a fan and honored to say hello and that I could only wish to take a snapshot because I didn’t have a camera with me. He replied matter-of-factly, “that’s uh insult.”
That’s about when I noticed his brightly sparkling red sequened shoes, nothing more was said, and me being one not to interrupt the privacy of even a super star when found dining, bowed out stage right to the salad bar. He ambled back to continue lunch with his group.
What’s also a little bit funny is that he’s the only genuine superstar that I am certain I actually had a conversation with. It was him. I have photographed several famous people including Elton John, Leon Russel and President Trump. Not too long ago, before his passing, I think I crossed paths and spoke a passing word with Kenny Rogers, but it was an odd circumstance and I’m still not sure it was him. One other time a pretty girl asked me for travel directions and she resembled one of the hot female country singers – LeAnn Rimes. At that moment – I’m really mostly rock-n-roll – I couldn’t remember her name. When I tried to pin her down she hee hawed and skeedadled – insulted I suppose. I think it was her.
Other founding members of rock-n-roll royalty have met with their usually untimely demise. But with Little Richard it somehow seems different, and foreboding. The golden age of rock is over but all the while many of that now tooty fruity generation are still performing live. Adds definition to the concept “Old Folks Boogie.” And, there ain’t nothing wrong with that, I love it. Even still, it can’t last forever.
Rest In Peace Little Richard – like hell – cut-a-rug and make the devil dance too!!!
©2020 – Jim Casey