The Influence Of Little Richard To Paul McCartney
The Beatles live in 1963 - Beatroom - Glory1Dx / Youtube
Although The Beatles were considered titans of the music industry, credit still has to be given to those people who helped them achieve their massive success. When the Fab Four were just teenagers in the outskirts of Liverpool and Hamburg, they were immersed with various rock n’ roll figures that allow them to imitate and eventually have their style later on. Paul McCartney has frequently cited the likes of Big Bill Broonzy and Buddy Holly as his inspirations; but perhaps, the greatest one of them all would have to be given to Little Richard, the one man that McCartney truly idolizes the most.
Paul’s first encounter with his idol happened when he was just 14 years old, right at the moment when he watched the film, “The Girl Can’t Help It,” a 1956 musical comedy. Music legends Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley were also present in the movie, but it was the ever-charismatic Richard who caught the young boy’s attention. McCartney explained why the movie became such an integral moment for Black-American artists in his statement in The Beatles Anthology: “We idolized these people [Black-American artists] and always thought they were given crummy treatment — until ‘The Girl Can’t Help It,’” implying that the musical became a groundbreaking one as it gave Black artists a chance to be billed as a top-star in a movie.
After being struck by the charm and eccentricity of Richard’s singing style, McCartney was inspired the following year to dream of something big. Somewhere along with the search for his destiny, he would happen to meet a fellow music aspirant, John Lennon.
Ivan Vaughn, who was a mutual friend of both Lennon and McCartney, was the one who brought the two of them together at a church fete in the summer of 1957, where John was performing with his band, the Quarrymen. The forthcoming partners were trying to hang out in a group setting, as said in The Beatles: All These Years. McCartney, knowing that this is an opportunity to amuse some new friends, has asked Lennon if he could have a go on the latter’s guitar. McCartney then proceeded to perform Eddie Cochran’s complex rock ‘n’ roll number “Twenty Flight Rock,” a song that was featured in “The Girl Can’t Help It,” a film that John Lennon also happened to be obsessed with. Within a short amount of time, McCartney provided John Lennon with an understanding of his astounding level of musicality as well as their similar tastes in rock n’ roll.
This might be the start of their burgeoning friendship, but the real indicator that the two would click in any form was when McCartney opened his love for Little Richard, with whom Lennon was equally obsessed as well. They shared over a medley of Richard’s songs; somehow developing their bond for music and shared interests. Years later, they will become one of the greatest collaborators in the history of music.
Just after the Quarrymen dissolved, Lennon and McCartney formed the Beatles. Shortly after, Brian Epstein, the band’s manager, booked the new band for a multitude of gigs in Hamburg, Germany. With these gigs, they were paired up with legends that they grew up watching. Coincidentally, Little Richard was one of these legends; the band used to watch him perform from backstage. After Ringo Starr struck up a conversation with him about the drummer’s ring collection, Little Richard invited the band to hang out backstage at his hotel. Richard agreed with this statement and subsequently recalled that, whenever the young musicians were short on cash, he would foot the bill for their meals. And, perhaps even more importantly, he instructed McCartney in the art of perfecting the distinctive scream made famous by himself.
McCartney’s ability to mimic Richard’s vocal style was a major factor in the band’s decision to include a lot of Richard’s songs from their earlier albums.
After the death of Little Richard in 2020, McCartney is among the hundreds of musicians who paid tribute to the legend. “I owe a lot of what I do to Little Richard and his style,” McCartney tweeted. “And he knew it. He would say, ‘I taught Paul everything he knows.’ I had to admit he was right.”