Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

It is impossible to answer the question of who invented rock and roll, but it is clear that Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, played a very important role in the history of the genre. It was he who co-wrote and was the first performer of the song that Mojo magazine placed on the first line of the list of 100 audio recordings that changed the world. We are talking about the composition “Tutti Frutti”.

History and meaning of the song

Little Richard wrote it in the early fifties while working as a dishwasher at the Greyhound bus station. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he said:

I couldn’t get along with my boss. He was constantly bringing me some pots for me to wash, and one day I decided: “I need to come up with something so that this guy will no longer drag these pots to my sink.” I told him, “Wop-bop-e-lu-bop-e-wop-bam-boom, take them away!” – and then I was determined. So “Tutti Frutti” I wrote in the kitchen, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” I wrote in the kitchen, and “Long Tall Sally” I wrote in the same kitchen.

This famous exclamation, which later on was often used by musicians playing rock and roll, is a verbal imitation of a drum rhythm that Little Richard heard somewhere. Allegedly, he often answered with such a phrase when asked how he was doing.

The original version of the text “Tutti Frutti”, which Richard performed at his performances, was significantly different from what we now know. It was full of local slang and obscene expressions. Dorothy LaBostri, who was invited by producer Robert Blackwell, helped to clean up the words and make them more harmonious. He once called her “the girl who was constantly hanging around the studio trying to sell her songs.”

Dorothy quickly completed the task, but there was still no time left for a long work on “Tutti Frutti”. Richard recorded it on his third attempt, taking about fifteen minutes to complete the entire process.

Release and achievements

So on September 14, 1955, a hit was born, which many consider the best rock and roll song. “Tutti Frutti” climbed to number two on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues and peaked at number seventeen on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was not as successful on the UK chart, reaching only number thirty.

Shortly after Little Richard, cover versions of “Tutti Frutti” were recorded by Pat Boone and Elvis Presley. Later, the song was performed by Queen, Elton John, Sting and many others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bda1-Ut3gH8

Rolling Stone ranked “Tutti Frutti” 43rd on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The first line in the “Mojo” rating was mentioned at the beginning of the article.

David Bowie, who heard “Tutti Frutti” at the age of nine, later said that at that moment, his “heart almost exploded with delight.” And Little Richard called the song his greatest achievement, because it pulled him out of the kitchen onto the big stage.

Interesting Facts

  • The co-authors of the lyrics of the song “Tutti Frutti” are officially considered to be Little Richard, Dorothy Labostrie and someone Luban. Some say that the last name is the pseudonym of Art Rupa, the owner of the Specialty label, while others believe that songwriter Joe Luban is meant.
  • In the 1980s, Dorothy Labostry still got a check for five thousand every three to six months. Such an amount – a considerable amount for those times – was made up of her royalties.

Tutti Frutti lyrics

A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop!
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty x5
A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop!

I got a gal, named Sue, she knows just what to do,
I got a gal, named Sue, she knows just what to do,
She rocks to the East, she rocks to the West
She is the gal that I love best.

I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy,
I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy,
She knows how to love me, yes indeed,
Boy you don’t know what she’s doin’ to me.

I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy,
I got a gal, named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy,
She knows how to love me, yes indeed,
Boy you don’t know what she’s doin’ to me.

I do not offer a translation of the song “Tutti Frutti” due to the almost complete lack of meaning in the text. It all comes down to this: “I have a cool friend, Daisy, who drives me crazy to no end, lanza-dritsa-gop-tsa-tsa.”

Song quote

Artfully stylized novelty with meaningless words that are pronounced at great speed. The performer is irresistible and has an engaging vocal style.

Billboard, 1955

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