Otis Redding Said 1 of Little Richard’s Songs Was the ‘Personification of Soul’

Little Richard is one of the ultimate icons in the history of classic rock. During his career, he also recorded songs in other genres. Notably, Otis Redding said Little Richard recorded a song that was the “personification of soul.”

Little Richard at a piano
Little Richard | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Little Richard repurposed the instrumentation from a blues song to write ‘Lucille’

In the 1984 book The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography, Little Richard discussed his relationship with his record label, Specialty Records. Specialty Records didn’t seem to embrace Little Richard’s signature style. “I recorded ‘Wonderin’,’ ‘He’s My Star,’ ‘Directly From My Heart To You,’ [actually called ‘Directly From My Heart’] and ‘I’m Just A Lonely Guy,’ because at that time Specialty wanted me to be a blues singer, like B.B. King and Ray Charles,” the “Tutti Frutti” singer recalled.

Little Richard revealed “Directly From My Heart” had a significant impact on his career. He said he took the instrumentation from “Directly From My Heart,” slowed it down, and wrote his song “Lucille.” “Lucille” became one of his most famous songs and one of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll songs from the 1950s.

Otis Redding said Little Richard’s songs had a huge impact on him

The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography includes quotes from several musicians who drew inspiration from Little Richard. One of these quotes is a 1966 comment from Redding. “If it hadn’t been for Little Richard, I would not be here,” Redding revealed. “I entered the music business because of Richard — he is my inspiration. I used to sing like Little Richard, his rock ‘n’ roll stuff, you know.”

Redding discussed Little Richard’s relationship to soul music. “Richard has soul, too,” he said. “My present music has a lot of him in it. He did a number way back called ‘Directly From My Heart To You’ which was the personification of soul, and he had one out — I heard it in L.A. a lot — called ‘I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me.’ Yes, sir. Little Richard has done a lot for me and my soul brothers in the music business.”


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The way audiences in the United States and the United Kingdom reacted to the song

Little Richard never released “Directly From My Heart” as a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune appeared on his third album, The Fabulous Little Richard. The Fabulous Little Richard did not hit the Billboard 200.

“Directly From My Heart” made an even smaller impact in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the track did not chart in the U.K. Furthermore, none of Little Richard’s albums charted in the U.K. “Directly From My Heart” was not a hit on the charts, but it received a ringing endorsement from Redding.