This Album Changed My Life : Little Richard – Little Richard (1958)
Damien Jurado on the captivating, terrifying sound of a ‘hurricane hitting a wall’
I was an eight-year-old Mexican-American kid living in North Carolina, obsessed with rock groups like Kiss and wowed by anthemic songs from the Bay City Rollers. I felt well versed in the sounds around me. This all changed one day while being excused from the classroom to run an errand for my teacher.
When I stepped into this giant reverb chamber of a hallway I was immediately struck by the sound of what the late record producer Cosimo Matassa once described as a hurricane hitting the walls.
The closer to the end of the hallway I got the louder the sound became. It was like nothing I had ever heard. It was as captivating as it was terrifying, and it rocked my foundations so hard that I can still feel its aftershocks.
“Keep a knockin’ but you can’t come in
come back tomorrow night and try it again (woooooooo!)”
I found myself in front of the custodian’s closet. The janitor on duty noticed me, turned down the volume just a bit, and asked, “Are you lost?”
I turned my eyes from his radio to him and asked, “What is that? Who is that?”
“Sheeeeat, boy! That’s Little Richard.”
There was no need to write down the name. It was forever burnt into my memory.
It was easy to miss Little Richard in the era of disco and schmaltzy soft rock, especially when you’re a kid with no money, dependent on the radio to tell you what’s cool. The radio had no clue. It still has no clue. Nothing is more radical or fierce than Little Richard. He was referred to as “the innovator; the architect of rock’n’roll.” I believe it. I have yet to be convinced otherwise. – In conversation with Niall Byrne