Little Richard Officiated Quite a Few Celebrity Weddings – and Even Performed Fictional Ceremonies on Two Hugely Popular Soaps
Music legend Little Richard will forever be remembered for his boundary-blurring, eccentric footprint on popular music and the countless artists that he influenced along the way.
A lesser-known fact about the pop artist was his ordination as a minister and his delight in officiating weddings for his friends – and on television.
Little Richard’s death at age 87
The flamboyant singer died this week after suffering for many years with bone cancer. He found his singing talent as a young man in church and eventually kicked off a career that endured 60 years. Once he fell in love with R&B, the Georgia-born Richard Wayne Penniman didn’t look back and transformed his image into the 1950s “wild man of rock n’ roll” with massive hits including “Long Tall Sally,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”
He told Rolling Stone in 1990, “When I first came along, I never heard any rock & roll. When I started singing [rock & roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public because I was afraid they wouldn’t like it. I never heard nobody do it, and I was scared.”
How Little Richard became an ordained minister
Little Richard took a break from music in 1957 to study to become a minister. He attended Alabama seminary Oakwood College, where he was ordained. After receiving his ordination, he began recording again, and this time he traded in the rock and roll for a 1959 gospel album, God Is Real.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney, an intensely avid fan of Little Richard’s, wrote in the foreword for the artist’s 1994 biography, The Life and Times of Little Richard, “Shining like a quasar, the most intensely radiant object in the cosmos, he seems to tap a mystical source of mental power that is only accessible to great preachers and shamans.”
The celebrity – and fictional – weddings Little Richard officiated
For Richard Penniman, the best part of being a minister was being legally licensed to perform wedding ceremonies for his friends. Among those couples he joined in holy matrimony? Demi Moore and Bruce Willis in 1987; Bruce Springsteen E Street Band member Stevie Van Zandt and his wife Maureen in 1982; singer Cyndi Lauper and her husband, David Thornton in 1991; and the late Tom Petty to Dana York in 2001.
Van Zandt tweeted this week following the legendary singer’s death, “RIP Little Richard. The man who invented Rock and Roll. Elvis popularized it. Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype. Maureen and I were so honored being the first marriage he conducted. We were lucky to know him. He lives forever in the Underground Garage.”
In addition to these celebrity weddings, the Grammy-Award winning singer and musician also appeared on daytime dramas One Life To Live and The Young and The Restless as himself performing fictional weddings with his usual brilliant panache.