Saturday Single No. 357

Sometimes these singles for a Saturday morning reflect an idea I’m already mulling as I scan the listings. Sometimes that scanning gives me an idea. And sometimes, especially when I’m checking recording dates, the title of one of the classic singles simply says “It’s my time!”

And so it is with a single from New Orleans recorded fifty-eight years ago today.

Seeking his first hit, Little Richard went into a session for Specialty Records on September 14, 1955, according to Wikipedia. The session brought together in Cosimo Matassa’s J & M Studio some folks whose names are now legendary: Producer Bumps Blackwell with Lee Allen and Alvin “Red” Tyler on saxophones, Frank Fields on guitar and Earl Palmer on drums.

But Wikipedia notes that “as the session wore on, Little Richard’s anarchic performance style was not being fully captured on tape. In frustration during a lunch break, he started pounding a piano and singing a ribald song that he had written and had been performing live for a few years.” He sang:

A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!! Tutti Frutti, good booty . . .

Blackwell called in songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie to clean up the song’s earthy lyrics*, and three takes of the song were laid down in about fifteen minutes that day. Released as Specialty 561, the record was No. 2 for six weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and went to No. 17 on the Billboard pop chart.

Wikipedia further notes:

In 2007, an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists voted “Tutti Frutti” number 1 on Mojo’s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.” In 2010, the US Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the recording to its registry, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music.” In April 2012, Rolling Stone magazine declared that the song “still contains what has to be considered the most inspired rock lyric ever recorded: ‘A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!!’”

And all of that is why Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” is today’s Saturday Single.

*Wikipedia says: “In addition to Penniman and LaBostrie, a third name – Lubin – is credited as co-writer. Some sources considered this to be a pseudonym used by Specialty label owner Art Rupe to claim royalties on some of his label’s songs, but others refer to songwriter Joe Lubin. Songwriter LaBostrie was quoted as saying that ‘Little Richard didn’t write none of “Tutti Frutti”.’”

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 357”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    Sad to see Little Richard having to officially call it a day on his performing career recently. Slippin’ and slidin’ ain’t easy when the body doesn’t rock and roll like it used to.

  2. Paco Malo says:

    At about 9 years old, I discovered Little Richard on Carson. The only out queen on national TV had a lot to teach me. Surviving the New Orleans French Quarter Elysian Fields district wouldn’t have been possible without Little Richard and Bette’s audience. I came to the Quarter almost ready.

    And the music: rock ‘n’ roll I never stop learning from. Little Richard is everything his ego used to tell him he was.

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