Otis Williams

Richard, The First: He calls himself "the originator." Little Richard revolutionized rock 'n' roll with "Tutti Frutti" 55 years ago
By Marc Myers

To put his early voltage in perspective, consider this: Elvis Presley recorded four of Little Richard’s singles on his way up in 1956. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notes that, more than any other performer of the period except Presley, Little Richard “blew the lid off the fifties.”

His early works included 15 Billboard Top 100 hits by 1958, as well as appearances in two early rock movies for teens—"Don’t Knock the Rock" (1956) and “Mister Rock and Roll” (1957)—and the comedy, “The Girl Can’t Help It” (1956), for which he wrote the film’s grinding theme.

But Little Richard’s influence wasn’t confined to rock’s golden age. He was a headliner in Europe in the early 1960s and was idolized there by the Beatles and Rolling Stones. He gave Tina Turner charisma lessons at the behest of husband Ike Turner, and he hired and fired Jimi Hendrix.

In fact, Little Richard’s influence can be felt in virtually every top rock act since 1955—from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis to Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Prince and many of today’s rappers.

“I should be better recognized today for sure,” said Little Richard in a hushed voice. “I am the beginning. I am the originator.” [Read More]

Otis Williams Remembers Michael Jackson’s Motown Years

Fans from different generations will all remember the King of Pop in their own way. For many, the Michael Jackson they remember best is the little boy who blew audiences away in the ‘70s as one of the lead singers of the Jackson 5. Fellow Motown legend Otis Williams of the Temptations told Spinner about the first time he met the talented youngster and his brothers.

“Michael was … I mean, here’s a little boy who could sing his little ass off,” Williams recalls. “When he did one of Smokey [Robinson]’s songs, 'Who’s Lovin’ You?’ … at the end of it he would do this riff, and he did a riff that went off into a little minor bluesy kind of thing. I go, 'Now wait a minute, he’s too young to be riffin’ like that.’”

Williams also shared one of his fondest memories of the young Michael. In Chicago, the Temptations and the Jacksons had performed at Jesse Jackson’s 'Operation Push’ in Chicago. Later, the singers all had to pile into a U-Haul truck to escape an unruly mob of fans.

“I remember to this day, Michael said, 'Where’s Otis? Where’s Otis?’ And somebody put the truck light on, and I said, 'I’m here, Michael. I’m right here.’ And he looked up at me like a little boy and I never will forget that,” Williams says. “It was so touching. He was so concerned, he wanted to know where I was. That high, squeaky voice going, 'Where’s Otis? Where’s Otis?’ I love the Jacksons.”