Our Top 10 Little Richard songs list takes a look at the songs of an artist that may just be the most influential and groundbreaking musical artist of all time. It’s difficult to know where to start in describing the impact Little Richard had on popular culture because he did so much across many musical genres and helped break some society norms at the time. Starting in 1955 with the release of the single “Tutti Frutti,” Little Richard showcased the endless possibilities and directions that rock and roll could go while helping define the basic sound or rock and roll music. Playing the piano with a ferocious energy and singing with a soulfulness and grit that no one had ever done before, Little Richard ignited the concert stage turning heads while recruiting audiences of teens from all sides of society both black and white. That in itself was something unseen before in the 1950s and shed a spotlight on the power of rock and roll and how it could somehow be seen as a force in dealing with racism to a point. Little Richards impact on rock and roll also helped fuel the sounds of what would become funk and soul. Little Richard set the bar as high as it could possibly be in the 1950s and thousands of performers and songwriters since then have been emulating at least one aspect of Little Richards style in their own musical careers. If you want to define the word trendsetter in a single sentence, simply add the words Little Richard to it and the definition will be complete.
# 10 – Slippin’ and Slidin’
We open up our Top 10 Little Richard Songs list with the great track “Slippin’ and Slidin’.” We could not think of a more perfect track to open up this Little Richard songs list. The energy is off the charts on this one. A fierce grooving rock and roll masterpiece released by Little Richards in 1956. The song was originally released as the B-side to the single” Long Tall Sally.” “Slippin’ and Slidin’ “ did really well on the Billboard music charts. The song hit number two on the Billboard R&B charts.
# 9 – The Girl Can’t Help It
Continuing with our top 10 Little Richard songs list, we present the funky rocking tune “The Girl Can’t Help It.” The song was written by songwriter and actor Bobby Troup. The composer was most famous for writing the song “Route 66.” Little Richard recorded the song “The Girl Can’t Help It.” for the soundtrack to the motion picture The Girl Can’t Help It in 1956. The song has been widely covered by artists of many different genres ranging from the band The Animals to the Black Eyed Pea’s Fergie.
# 8 – Rip It Up
Little Richard’s version of the great rock and roll song “Rip It Up,” was released in 1956. The recording became Little Richard’s second number one single on the Billboard R&B charts. The song became one of the most popular songs of the 1950s as it was also recorded by Bill Haley & The Comets, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers.
# 7 – Bama Lama Bama Loo
This great Little Richard song “Bama Lama Bama Loo” was recorded during his comeback in 1964 for Specialty Records. Little Richard sounds fantastic on this tune. However, the British Invasion had begun and this style of music faced a great challenge in a quick changing musical landscape.
# 6 – Jenny Jenny
Little Richard’s song “Jenny Jenny,” was the songwriter’s and performer’s second top 10 hit of his career. The song just reached the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 peaking at number 10 in 1957. The song “Jenny Jenny,” also had great success on the Billboard R&B charts reaching all the way up to number 2. The song was written by Little Richard and Enotris Johnson.
# 5 – Lucille
As we enter the second half of top 10 Little Richard songs list we turn to another cranking Rock and Roll song by Little Richard called “Lucille.’ This great Little Richard song was released as a single in 1957. “Lucille,” became Little Richards third number one single on the U.S. Billboard R&B charts. The song did well on the US Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 21. No other rock and roll song featuring a woman’s name has been sung with such a Rock and Roll spirit the way Little Richard sings the name Lucille.
# 4 – Good Golly Miss Molly
Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly,” is one of Little Richard’s most famous pieces. The song is widely known because of the extremely popular cover versions of the song done by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. These bands arranged the song with the track “Devil with a Blue Dress On” and Little Richards “Jenny Jenny,” into a raucous and rocking medley that brought houses down. Pure rock and roll spirit inspired by the brilliance of Little Richard.
# 3 – Keep-a-Knockin’
This is one of those songs you just can’t get out of your head. Little Richard’s great single “Keep A-Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)” was released in 1957. It stands as the second biggest hit of his career. The song broke the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10 peaking at number 8. It also hit number 2 on the Billboard R&B charts. Little Richard re-recorded the song multiple times in his career so there are many different versions of the song out there. However our favorite will always be his original 1957 version.
# 2 – Long Tall Sally
As we close in on the number one spot on our top 10 Little Richard songs list we turn to Little Richard’s most successful song on the Billboard top 100. While Little Richard had many number one hits on the Billboard R&B charts he never had a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. Little Richard’s song “Long Tall Sally,” was the highest-charting song of his career on the Billboard top 100. The song hit number 6 in 1956. However, “Long Tall Sally,” went straight to number one on the US Billboard R&B charts. “Long Tall Sally,” stands as one of the loudest and most loved rock and roll songs of Little Richard’s career. It is one of those great rock and roll songs that is loved by everyone and covered by many. The Beatles were very fond of the song. They performed the song live throughout their entire career from their earliest days to their last show in 1966. It actually is the last song they ever played live in 1966. The song was never released on any of the UK Beatles studio albums but it did appear on the U.S. album entitled The Beatles Second Album. It has been released on various Beatles live compilations.
# 1 – Tutti Frutti
We close out our top 10 Little Richard Songs list with what is probably Little Richard’s most famous song. Whenever one thinks of Little Richard, the lyrics and melody to “Tutti Frutti,” most definitely is the first song that comes to mind. Little Richard first released the song in October of 1955. It stands as one of the first rock and roll recordings and clearly one of the most inspirational. Along with Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline,” Bill Haley’s “Rocket 88,” and Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right Mama,” “Tutti Frutti,” is responsible for the launch of the genre of rock and roll in the 1950s. The song was written by Dorothy LaBostrie and Little Richard. Dorothy LaBostrie always claimed that she alone composed the song. She said she got the idea from the name of an ice cream flavor called Tutti Frutti she saw at a local ice cream shop. Songwriting credit for the song was later on given to Richard Penniman (Little Richard), Dorothy LaBostrie and Joe Lubin.
While many will argue that “Tutti Frutti,” was Little Richard’s biggest hit, from a commercial standpoint it was eclipsed by many of his other songs on the charts that came later on. When the song was first released in 1955, it peaked at number 17. However the song did much better on the Billboard R&B Charts in 1955 where it peaked all the way up to number 2. In the end, “Tutti Frutti’s chart success didn’t really mean much when compared to how influential the recording became. When looking back at those early rock and roll songs, “Tutti Frutti,” was probably more explosive and threatening in a rock and roll sense than anything else at the time.
Top 10 Little Richard Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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