Influenced by gospel music, at 18 years of age Richard won a talent contest in Atlanta that led to an unsuccessful recording contract with RCA Victor. Five years later his screaming vocal style and suggestive lyric’s to the song “Tutti Fruiti” landed him a recording contract with Specialty Records, but only after the words were changed did the effort give him his first chart success in 1956.
In two years Little Richard recorded fifty songs for Specialty. “Long Tall Sally” hit the top ten in 1956, “Jenny, Jenny” and “Keep A Knockin’” in 1957 and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” in 1958. Among his other chart hits were, “Slippin’ and Slidin’”, “Rip It Up”, “Ready Teddy”, “The Girl Can’t Help It”, “Lucille”, “Baby Face”, “Send Me Some Lovin’” and “Ooh! My Soul”.
Little Richard’s flamboyant appearance and performance on stage set the standard for others to follow, including Jerry Lee Lewis and Elton John.
Little Richard was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1993, was given a Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994, and in 2003 was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.