Little Richard and the (non)subsuming of a rather suave transgression…

  • Little Richard-Richard Wayne Penniman-1950-Afterhours Sleaze and DignityAfter I had recently read Peter Doyle’s Get Rich Quick (see Day #64/365a) and its tales of goings on during and around the Australian tour when Little Richard renounced rock’n'roll and turned to another form of transcendence via religion, I found myself searching, researching and wandering through the life and work of that particular “War Hawk”, Mr Richard Wayne Penniman.

    One of the things that’s fascinating looking back at the be-pomped Little Richard in the 1950s is just how transgressive and beyond the norm he seems even today.

    At a time when society could still be shocked to its core by a hairstyle and mode of dress, its hard to imagine how much this particular gent must have worried the “squareheads” (to quote Peter Doyle / Australian slang of the time).

    Little Richard-Richard Wayne Penniman-1956-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity-3

    How times have changed.

    Little Richard-Richard Wayne Penniman-1950s-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity-2To quote a certain co-wrecker of civilisation and post-Penniman worrier of society Mr Genesis P. Orridge:

    I think something very smart happened a few years ago. There’s no need to make anything the enemy anymore.

    If you don’t make anything the enemy then you can accept it back as activity that can feed into your powerstructure – you co-opt everything and everyone.

    Not only do you not have to waste time controlling people, but you also defuse the problem and make more money. Everything could be subverted by commerce and fashion and logos.

    Little Richard-Richard Wayne Penniman-1950s-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity-4…but co-opting Mr Penniman? I don’t think even time, the wiles of “the man” and a number of decades have fully done that.

    Peruse writings on The Quasar Of Rock here and Peter Doyle’s fiction work here.

    But really, I think I should leave the final word or two to Mr Penniman:

    “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!”

     

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