Paul McCartney: Little Richard Taught Me Everything I Know

"I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style"

Paul McCartney Little Richard tribute The Beatles
The Beatles and Little Richard, photo via Getty

    There’s no hyperbole in stating that Little Richard changed rock & roll as we knew it when he broke into the music scene. Look no further than the countless artists who’ve paid tribute to Richard after learning of his passing on Saturday, including Bob Dylan himself. Now, arguably the biggest pioneer of pop-rock music, Paul McCartney, has gone on the record to claim Little Richard taught him “everything he knows” and more.

    McCartney memorialized Richard with a lengthy tribute on Twitter, essentially crediting Richard for paving the way for The Beatles. When the Fab Four were busy playing residencies at small, McCartney looked to him for inspiration and guidance. “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style,” he wrote.

    “From ‘Tutti Frutti’ to ‘Long Tall Sally’ to ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ to ‘Lucille’, Little Richard came screaming into my life when I was a teenager,” McCartney tweeted. “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style; and he knew it. He would say, ‘I taught Paul everything he knows’. I had to admit he was right.”


    He recounted intimate memories with the rock legend, including early gigs in The Beatles’ career where they shared a bill with Richard in Hamburg, Germany. “He would let us hang out in his dressing room and we were witness to his pre-show rituals,” wrote McCartney. “With his head under a towel over a bowl of steaming hot water, he would suddenly lift his head up to the mirror and say, ‘I can’t help it cos I’m so beautiful.’ And he was.”

    As Rolling Stone points out, McCartney would go on to adopt that same ritual — steaming his face to clear his larynx before a show — because he learned it by watching Richard. Late in their career, The Beatles would often cover Richard during their live shows, particularly his hits “Long Tall Sally”, “Lucille”, and “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!”

    The tribute is deeply touching, and McCartney ended it on a bittersweet note, writing, “I thank him for all he taught me and the kindness he showed by letting me be his friend. Goodbye Richard and a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop.'”


    Read his full tribute below.

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