Legendary Little Richard Part Eight
It’s been over a year, but I never forget my favorite performers and singers. Little Richard is a performer, because he can sing, play instruments, and he wrote songs. In this blog entitled Legendary Little Richard Part Eight, i’m going to deal with his religion and health, so keep reading and see and hear what this blog has.
Little Richard’s family had deep evangelical (Baptist and African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)) Christian roots, including two uncles and a grandfather who were preachers. Little Richard also took part in Macon’s Pentecostal churches, which were his favorites mainly due to their music, charismatic praise, dancing in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. At age 10, influenced by Pentecostalism, Little Richard would go around saying he was a faith healer, singing gospel music to people who were feeling sick and touching them. He later recalled that they would often indicate that they felt better after he prayed for them and would sometimes give him money. Little Richard had aspirations of being a preacher due to the influence of singing evangelist Brother Joe May.
After he was born again in 1957, Little Richard enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, a mostly black Seventh-day Adventist college, to study theology. Little Richard returned to secular music in the early 1960s. He was eventually ordained a minister in 1970, and again resumed evangelical activities in 1977. Little Richard represented Memorial Bibles International and sold their Black Heritage Bible, which highlighted the Book’s many black characters. As a preacher, Little Richard evangelized in small churches and packed auditoriums of 20,000 or more. His preaching focused on uniting the races and bringing lost souls to repentance through God’s love. In 1984, Little Richard’s mother, Leva Mae, died following a period of illness. Only a few months prior to her death, Little Richard promised her that he would remain a Christian.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Little Richard officiated at celebrity weddings. In 2006, Little Richard wedded twenty couples who won a contest in one ceremony. The musician used his experience and knowledge as a minister and elder statesman of rock and roll to preach at funerals of musical friends such as Wilson Pickett and Ike Turner. At a benefit concert in 2009 to raise funds to help rebuild children’s playgrounds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Little Richard asked guest of honor Fats Domino to pray with him and others. His assistants handed out inspirational booklets at the concert—a common practice at Little Richard’s shows. He somberly told a Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. audience in June 2012, “I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord. The world is getting close to the end. Get close to the Lord.” In 2013, Little Richard elaborated on his spiritual philosophies, stating “God talked to me the other night. He said He’s getting ready to come. The world’s getting ready to end and He’s coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around his throne.” Rolling Stone reported his apocalyptic prophesies generated snickers from some audience members as well as cheers of support. Little Richard responded by stating: “When I talk to you about [Jesus], I’m not playing. I’m almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn’t be here.”
In October 1985, Little Richard returned to the United States from England, where he had finished recording his album Lifetime Friend, to film a guest spot on the show, Miami Vice. Following the taping, he accidentally crashed his sports car into a telephone pole in West Hollywood, California. He suffered a broken right leg, broken ribs and head and facial injuries. His recovery from the accident took several months. His accident prevented him from being able to attend the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in January 1986 where he was one of several inductees. He instead supplied a recorded message.
In 2007, Little Richard was having problems walking due to sciatica in his left leg, requiring him to use crutches. In November 2009, he entered a hospital to have replacement surgery on his left hip. Despite returning to performance the following year, Little Richard’s problems with his hip continued and he has since been brought onstage by wheelchair. He has told fans that his surgery has his hip “breaking inside” and refuses to have further work on it.
On September 30, 2013, he revealed to CeeLo Green at a Recording Academy fundraiser that he had suffered a heart attack at his home the week prior and stated he used aspirin and had his son turn the air conditioner on, which his doctor confirmed had saved his life. Little Richard stated, “Jesus had something for me. He brought me through”.
On April 28, 2016, Little Richard’s friend, Bootsy Collins stated on his Facebook page that, “he is not in the best of health so I ask all the Funkateers to lift him up.” Reports subsequently began being published on the internet stating that Little Richard was in grave health and that his family were gathering at his bedside. On May 3, 2016, Rolling Stone reported that Little Richard and his lawyer provided a health information update in which Richard stated, “not only is my family not gathering around me because I’m ill, but I’m still singing. I don’t perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I’m healthy.'” His lawyer also reported: “He’s 83. I don’t know how many 83-year-olds still get up and rock it out every week, but in light of the rumors, I wanted to tell you that he’s vivacious and conversant about a ton of different things and he’s still very active in a daily routine. I used to represent Prince and he just engaged me in all kinds of Prince conversations, calling him a ‘creative genius.'”