Little Richard

SXSW Live Shots

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By John Anderson

Little Richard

Keynote Address, Austin Convention Center/SXSW Showcase Set, Austin Music Hall, Thursday, March 18 In his SXSW 04 keynote address and then later in his evening showcase set, Little Richard shared three things with Austin. One, work the best at your craft, no matter what you do. Two, "sign your own checks." And three, live for today; don't be bitter about what could've been. Only someone with such artistic influence could so forcefully deliver such a message. In an interview format with "Louie, Louie" expert, Creem co-founder, and Motown music writer Dave Marsh, Mr. Richard Wayne Penniman held court in the stuffed convention center ballroom, telling (sometimes suggestive) jokes, playfully admonishing the crowd for snickering ("Shut up!"), and spinning the tale of rock's genesis, sprinkling it with names like Nat King Cole, the Beatles, Muddy Waters, James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Howlin' Wolf, and more. With so many chapters to retell, Marsh didn't get much airtime, but he did ask the Georgia Peach if the line "sure like to ball" from "Good Golly, Miss Molly" meant then what it means today. Sadly, the answer was no, stated a lot more colorfully, and coyly. Bravo to Marsh for asking the question! That night Richard and his large band delivered said song along with a number of his legendary hits: "Tutti Frutti," "Lucille," "Jenny, Jenny," plus standards from rock's pantheon. Hearing Richard perform was a treat, but listening to him speak off the cuff earlier in the day was particularly special. Candid with his opinion, Richard talked about soul: "God gave soul to everyone, not just to black folk. He'd be afraid of the dark if he gave it all to black folk." And envy: "Remember this: The grass may look greener on the other side, but it's just as hard to cut." Thanks for the schooling, Mr. Penniman.

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