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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tutti Frutti

On this day 54 years ago, Sept. 13, 1955, Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as rock-n-roll legend, "Little Richard", walked into Cosimo Mattassa's recording studio in New Orleans and, backed by Fats Domino's band, recorded the classic hit, "Tutti Frutti".

Everyone knows the song's famous lyrics,
"Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bam-boom! Tutti Frutti, all rooty...",
but not many realize that the hit song was a cleaned-up version of a raunchier number which Penniman had performed in gay clubs across the South.

The songs original lyrics:
"A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddam!
Tutti Frutti, good booty
If it don’t fit, don’t force it
You can grease it, make it easy."

"Tutti Frutti" became a major hit and launched Little Richard into superstardom. The song not only helped to define the emerging sound of rock-n-roll, but also helped to rip the social and cultural lid off the 1950's. Mojo Magazine named "Tutti Frutti" as the #1 song on its list of "The Top 100 Songs That Changed the World. Little Richard became one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at #8 on its list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
And it all started with a song about gay sex. So maybe the next time you're hanging out in your neighborhood gay bar, and some singer is warbling lyrics so dirty they'd make a sailor blush, pay attention, you might just be listening to the next, great giant of Rock and Roll!

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