Alabama. Little Richard was remembered not only as a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer but as a generous man of faith in a funeral service at his alma mater, where he was buried Wednesday.
Mourners gathered at Oakwood University to pay their respects, many wearing masks and staying a few feet away at the outdoor trade in the school cemetery.
“What I really remember about Richard was not his onstage performances, which were certainly formidable, but Brother Richard … His incredible kindness and generosity to people,” said University President Leslie Pollard, who knew the artist personally. .
“I remember those of us around him in Los Angeles, and that he had money in the trunk of his car. Why did you have money in the trunk of your car? Only he knew. But I took money out and gave it to destitute people, ”said Pollard. “He was a very generous and kind person.”
He also spoke about how attentive the singer was, who throughout his career sold more than 30 million albums from which hits such as “Tutti Frutti”, “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Keep a Knockin ‘” come out.
“Once Richard got to know you, he never forgot you,” Pollard said. “He remembered your family, your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers, whose birthday he was … He was really interested in people.”
Richard died on May 9 of bone cancer. He was 87 years old.
His pastor, James Owens, said he had renamed it a year ago.
“We thank you, Lord, that he gave you his life,” he said. “We are so grateful that he is now buried in this consecrated land on the historic Oakwood University campus, where so many African-American talents have come from, including his. And we thank you, Lord, for your desire to preach the word, use your fame, to spread the name of Jesus Christ. “
Little Richard, whose real name was Richard Penniman, was one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll and, along with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, helped break down color barriers on music charts and popularized what was once considered “race music”. His hyperkinetic style of playing the piano, coupled with his howling and hairstyle, made him an unlikely sensation: a gay black man celebrated throughout the United States during the conservative Eisenhower era.
In his personal life, he fluctuated between obscenity and religion, alternating between the Bible and his outlandish demeanor and image, with his eyeliner, ultrathin mustache, and sparkly outfits.
For decades it has been an influence on other musicians, from the Beatles (Paul McCartney imitated Richard’s characteristic howling) to David Bowie. More than 40 years after he hit the charts, Bruce Springsteen was still performing “Good Golly Miss Molly” live.
Richard chose Oakwood University, a historic Black and Seventh-day Adventist study house in the town of Huntsville, northern Alabama, for his final break.