News | Pat Boone Talks About Little Richard

News | Pat Boone Talks About Little Richard | Society Of Rock Videos

via TOTY ITALY/YouTube

An Ode To The Founding Father of Rock ‘n Roll

Pat Boone and Little Richard are on the opposite sides of the music spectrum. The pop singer did cover versions of Richard’s three iconic tracks – “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” – milder and cleaner but surprisingly more successful than the original. They were an odd pair – Boone’s a pop idol with a squeaky-clean image while Richard’s wilder and more all-out.

Richard died at 87 years old on May 9, 2020 from bone cancer. Boone shared to Rolling Stone about their unlikely but special connection.

He said, “I didn’t get to know Richard that well. We moved in different circles. But I had a friendship and brotherhood with him…

“In 1956, I had up to that point six million-selling singles, all of them covers. They were R&B songs and we were calling them rock & roll. Randy Wood of Dot Records sent me “Tutti Frutti” [laughs] and it wasn’t like anything else I had covered. It was wild and crazy and obviously very commercial. I loved it. But I didn’t know what “a whop bob ba-luma bam boom” meant. I had to practice it. I had to write it out. When I did my record of it, a lot of my fans thought I was singing “a whop bob ba-luma Pat Boone,” but I wasn’t!

“I knew I wasn’t going to sound like Little Richard, but I wanted to capture as much as I could of the excitement and energy and let-it-flow attitude that he had.”

And the success of his covers meant success for Little Richard too.

He added, “I was thrilled [when “Tutti Fruitt” was a hit]. I was glad for him too. When my record came out, he was still washing dishes at a bus station in Macon. Those R&B artists knew that me covering their song helped them get into the pop market. I got an audio tape of Little Richard in the studio after he’d had several records and the DJ says to him, “How did you feel when Pat Boone did ‘Tutti Frutti’?” Richard said, “I was still washing dishes and my record was out and I was doing good, but I wasn’t getting no money! But when I heard Pat Boone, I threw the towel down and walked out of there and said, ‘I’m gonna make some money now!’”

“Richard and I met on the Dick Clark show after that. It was casual but friendly. We lip-synched our records and there wasn’t much time to hobnob. He was telling me how much he liked my records of his songs. There was a synergy there. I was good for his music and his music was good for me.”

The next time they crossed paths was around 10 years ago and Little Richard had become a minister. They attended a private affair and mostly talked “about Christian things.” Pat Boone shared that he considered Richard “my brother, spiritually and musically.”

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