Listen to the story of Specialty Records
Little Richard was the architect of rock and roll. His seminal 1950s records Long Tall Sally, Tutti Frutti and Lucille are the foundation stones of the genre. They ignited the rock and roll craze, and inspired Paul McCartney and youngsters all over the world to make their own music, starting a second wave of rock that resonates to this day.
But Little Richard might never have "happened" He'd been rejected many times by US record companies, including by Specialty Records. Richard had sent them a demo recording, and phoned up to ask if they ever listened to it. Label boss Art Rupe checked, and found the record in their rejects pile. Art listened again, heard something special, and gave Little Richard a deal. And that's when Richard broke through and made it big.
What if Art didn't find the recording, or decided not to back Little Richard? Would rock and roll as we now know it ever have come to be? Is Art Rupe the father of rock and roll?
His label gave us Little Richard, and a large number of classic rhythm and blues acts.
Art Rupe died in April. He was 104.
Richard is a writer, podcaster, radio and TV broadcaster, an editor, and a lover of music. He tells the stories of how great songs are made, and of the people who make them.