This piece originally appeared in Deek Magazine on September 23, 2005.
Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. The Deep South (like most of America) was a wild place in those days. Richard’s father was a preacher and a bootlegger, selling hooch and salvation as an adherent of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church — a sect of Christianity founded by a farmer named William Miller, who once wrote a book with the unwieldy title, Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843.
Richard spent his youth on the dirt street where hustlers of all types would hang out in the hot, dusty Georgia afternoons, singing to snare marks and move goods. There were old men with vegetable carts, ward heelers making the rounds, soap box preachers selling religion… people hustled whatever they had to get by.