61. Tutti Frutti – Little Richard – 1955

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“Tutti Frutti” (means “All Fruits” in Italian) is a song co-written by Little Richard, which was recorded in 1955 and became his first major hit record. With its opening cry of “A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!” (a verbal rendition of a drum pattern that Little Richard had imagined) and its hard-driving sound and wild lyrics, it became not only a model for many future Little Richard songs, but also a model for rock and roll itself.

In 2007, an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists voted “Tutti Frutti” number 1 on Mojo‘s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.” In 2010, the US Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the recording to its registry, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”. In April 2012, Rolling Stone magazine declared that the song “still contains what has to be considered the most inspired rock lyric ever recorded: “”A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!!”

Trivia

  • The original lyrics, “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy”, were replaced with “Tutti Frutti, aw rooty! Tutti Frutti, aw rooty”.
  • The record entered the Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart at the end of November 1955, and rose to # 2 early in 1956. It also reached # 17 on the Billboard pop chart.
  • After Pat Boone‘s success with “Ain’t That a Shame“, his next single was “Tutti Frutti”, markedly toned down from the already reworked Blackwell version. Boone’s version made no. 12 on the national pop chart, with Little Richard’s trailing behind only reaching no. 17.
  • Little Richard admitted that though Pat Boone “took [his] music”, Boone made it more popular due to his high status in the white music industry.
  • “They didn’t want me to be in the white guys’ way … I felt I was pushed into a rhythm and blues corner to keep out of rockers’ way, because that’s where the money is. When ‘Tutti Frutti’ came out … They needed a rock star to block me out of white homes because I was a hero to white kids. The white kids would have Pat Boone upon the dresser and me in the drawer ’cause they liked my version better, but the families didn’t want me because of the image that I was projecting.” – Little Richard.
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2 responses »

  1. The original Shock Rocker!
    A bisexual black man in make up playing Rock n Roll to mixed race crowds in the southern states of the USA, in an era when any one of those things could get you lynched!
    Oh, and the lyrics as he performed them in the clubs, before he recorded the song, were about anal sex.
    All that aside, this song just genius. ”A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!!” is such an inspired intro. This is iconic for a reason.

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