Beatles singer Paul McCartney is regarded by many as one of the greatest rockers to ever live. But even McCartney himself admitted that he learned “everything he knows” from rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard.
Little Richard taught Paul McCartney ‘everything he knows’
Following Little Richard’s death in 2020, McCartney paid tribute to his old friend on Twitter.
“From ‘Tutti Frutti’ to ‘Long Tall Sally’ to ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ to ‘Lucille’, Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager,” McCartney recalled. “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it. He would say, ‘I taught Paul everything he knows’. I had to admit he was right.”
He went on to look back on a time when The Beatles were on a split bill with Little Richard. The year was 1962, and the Fab Four were still playing residencies at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.
“In the early days of The Beatles we played with Richard in Hamburg and got to know him,” McCartney said in another tweet. “He would let us hang out in his dressing room and we were witness to his pre-show rituals, with his head under a towel over a bowl of steaming hot water, he would suddenly lift his head up to the mirror and say, ‘I can’t help it cos I’m so beautiful.’ And he was.”
“A great man with a lovely sense of humor and someone who will be missed by the rock and roll community and many more,” McCartney concluded. “I thank him for all he taught me and the kindness he showed by letting me be his friend.”
The Beatles went on to cover Little Richard staples like “Long Tall Sally,” “Lucille,” and “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!”
Little Richard is the ‘architect’ of rock ‘n’ roll
Sister Rosetta Tharpe is regarded by many to be the true pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll. She influenced artists including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. Little Richard popularized the genre in the 1950s with hit songs like “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”
In a 1990 interview with Rolling Stone, Richard claimed that he created the genre known as rock ‘n’ roll.
“I really feel from the bottom of my heart that I am the inventor. If there was somebody else, I didn’t know then, didn’t hear them, haven’t heard them. Not even to this day. So I say I’m the architect,” he said.
Richard was once famously quoted boasting about his status as the father of the genre: “I am the innovator. I am the originator. I am the emancipator. I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Paul McCartney steams his voice before performing thanks to Little Richard
In a 2017 post on his website, McCartney revealed that he continues to use the wisdom he learned from Little Richard to this day. That includes his pre-show ritual of steaming his face and vocal cords.
“I do like a steaming before I go on, which I was told was probably the best thing to clear your larynx,” McCartney said in 2017. “I was taught that by watching Little Richard do it when we were kids in Hamburg. He used to do it before he went on.”