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Good Golly I’m Back!

After turning his back on rock’n’roll to spread the word of God, Little Richard made a dramatic return in the early 60s. Vintage Rock celebrates the second coming of His Majesty…


In the early 60s, Little Richard was at the second major crossroads of his life. In 1958 he had made the decision to walk away from money, fame and rock’n’roll to pursue a life in the ministry with his Little Richard Evangelistic Team.

He was primarily faithful to his promise – attending seminary school, forming an evangelical crusade, preaching sermons and recording gospel music for a variety of record labels. In 1962 he accepted an offer to tour the UK under the assumption he would perform only gospel. His attitude quickly changed once he found himself in competition with soul music heartthrob Sam Cooke on the same tour, and after he witnessed the eagerness of British audiences for rock’n’roll.

In October 1963, he returned to the UK fully prepared to rock the house, but kept the nature of the tour a secret from his family. After five weeks of touring with the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, and a new British group, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard closed out the tour with a triumphant performance at Granada Television’s Manchester studio, whipping the audience of British teens and Teddy Boys into an excited frenzy.

Little Richard headed back to the States and within a few weeks he chose his path. The “true” King of Rock’n’Roll was ready to make his return. The first step was a call to his old boss, Art Rupe at Specialty Records.

Tiring of the music business, Rupe had effectively quit producing new music for Specialty Records in 1960, releasing only reissues of older material.

Having scored hits with tracks like Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally and Good Golly, Miss Molly, Little Richard left rock’n’roll behind in 1958, before an offer to tour the UK tempted him to rip it up again
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 1963, Little Richard was fully prepared to rock the house…The “true” King of Rock’n’Roll was ready to make his return!

In 1963 Little Richard toured the UK with The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and The Rolling Stones
Stevens/Evening News/REX/Shutterstock

US teens were in the grip of British beat fever and had little interest in a “has been”

He agreed to restart the label for one more single at Little Richard’s request. In May 1964, Little Richard returned to the studio with a band, including Glen Willings on guitar, Earl Palmer on drums, and former Specialty stars Don & Dewey (Don “Sugarcane” Harris and Dewey Terry) on bass and guitar. The resulting single, Bama Lama Bama Loo, was a frantic return to the spirit of Little Richard’s 50s hits, while also updating sonic form by exchanging honking saxophones for hot electric guitars. Little Richard was confident the single would take him roaring up the charts.

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