This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #49: Good Golly, Miss Molly by Little Richard.
In his entire enormously important career, Little Richard never won a single Grammy Award. Not one for any song nor album. Of course, after the Grammy Association became embarrassed by its own negligence, he was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement” award but, during the course of a career that spanned over a half century, a career that broke down so many barriers and helped to lay the actual foundation for what was to become “Rock n’ Roll, Little Richard was never acknowledged nor recognized for his contribution….at least by those who controlled the purse strings and authored the official histories.
To those who have been heralded as the Kings and Queens of Rock…..The John Lennons, the Keith Richards and the Elton Johns of the music world……they all know who Little Richard was and how important his role was in opening doors for each of them to become who they became. Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters tells the famous story of always publicly acknowledging how important a person Little Richard was in the annals of Rock. He states that as famous as he had become, he was still as nervous as a schoolboy when the opportunity arose one day to actually meet Little Richard in person. Grohl says that he was at the airport in Los Angeles and a young man approached and asked if he was Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters. Grohl is used to being approached and was expecting to be asked for an autograph when, instead, the young man told him that he was a relative of Little Richard and that they had heard about all of the kind words Grohl had said about him and, well, wouldn’t ya know it but, Little Richard was outside sitting in a car if Grohl wanted to come out and say hello. Grohl went outside. The car window slowly lowered and there was the man, himself. Grohl stumbled over his greeting. Little Richard thanked him for his kindness and then, gave Grohl HIS autograph on a prayer card *( because Little Richard was an ordained Minister, along with being a Rock n’ Roll star). Grohl told this story as he gave a eulogy at the funeral to rock star, Lemmy, from Motorhead. When Grohl concluded his remarks at the funeral, he reached into his breast coat pocket, pulled out the autographed prayer card (to the shock and delight of those in attendance) and then, placed it on Lemmy’s casket.
That Little Richard was a transcendent personality throughout the whole of Rock n’ Roll history should be something that everyone who cares about this music can agree upon. That his role and contributions were mostly ignored by the caretakers of the industry is a shocking lapse of respect and of true knowledge of who the real trailblazers and pioneers actually were. Without the likes of Little Richard, many who followed in his wake would have found the journey much more difficult to make.
Little Richard was born, Richard Wayne Penniman. While he grew up in a home that was filled with music, according to Richard, it wasn’t the kind of music that moved him so, he started making his own music. As mentioned in a previous post *(which you can read here), he got his start in the music business because of the kindness and mentorship of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who gave him his first big break. Once on stage, Little Richard took care of the rest of his business himself. His often outrageous personality frequently disarmed potential critics; especially those who believed Rock n’ Roll to be the Devil’s music and/or who harboured racist tendencies and simply refused to show respect to anyone of colour, let alone a frock-wearing, piano key-breaking powerhouse like Little Richard. One of the most remarkable trademarks of Little Richard’s early days as a performer was how risqué much if his music actually was. For someone raised in Churches and who would later go on to become a preacher, Little Richard was practiced in the Art of singing songs that contained much in the way of sexual innuendo. “Good Golly, Miss Molly” is but one song in a long list that hints very highly at hanky-panky going on. Yet, Richard was never censored for his music.
But, it is one thing for me or for the likes of Dave Grohl to wax nostalgic about Little Richard. It is another thing, entirely, for you to hear and see him play live, yourself. Thanks to the miracle of technology, we can go back in time and watch Little Richard performing at the very height of his power and passion. So, without further delay, here is one of the greatest and most important people ever in the entire history of Rock n’ Roll, with his song, “Good Golly, Miss Molly”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Good Golly, Miss Molly” by Little Richard, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Little Richard, can be found here.
The link to the video of the eulogy given by Dave Grohl at Lemmy’s funeral, in which he tells the story about meeting Little Richard at LAX, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.