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.

Little Richard in 2007
Little Richard in 2007 | Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

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.”

Little Richard, 1972
Little Richard, 1972 | Tim Graham/Evening Standard/Getty Images

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.

Little Richard preaching in 1981
Little Richard preaching in 1981 | George Rose/Getty Images

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.

Little Richard in a wedding scene from 'One  Life to Live' 1995
Little Richard in a wedding scene from ‘One Life to Live’ 1995 | Walt Disney Television/Ann Limongello

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.