words Al Woods
In an era when it was dangerous to even stand out as a black man Little Richard really put his head on the chopping block. His sexualised performances and gender bending as one of the originators of rock n roll still seem mind-blowing today. He came from the segregated South and grew up to kick down many barriers as he took 1950s America by storm.
A new feature length documentary charts the story of his life which often comes over as a white knuckle ride, at once exhilarating and tragic. He was a conflicted soul. His fierce religious upbringing conflicted with his lifestyle and music. His battles with his own sexuality also took its toll. This was a time when a man was a man and all that. He also doubted himself and his legacy feeling he’d been forgotten by history and supplanted by white rock n roll stars such as Pat Boone and Elvis Presley. If only he knew just how influential he was – looked to by people from Prince to David Bowie.
Featuring stellar interviewees, including Ringo Starr, Keith Richards, Nile Rodgers and Big Freesia, alongside intimate contributions from friends and bandmates and the never-before-broadcast words of Little Richard himself, this feature-length documentary tells the story of a rollercoaster life; of musical highs and knuckle-biting lows, and makes the case that Richard should be crowned the king – and queen – of rock ‘n’ roll.
Arena: Little Richard: King and Queen of Rock’n’roll was commissioned by Lorna Clarke, Director of Music, BBC for BBC Arena.
- A Minnow Films production for BBC and American Masters Pictures.
- Producers Joanna Boateng and Dearl Nelson
- Editor Shane McCormack
- Exec Prod Sophie Leonard
- Director James House.
The show will air on BBC Two – Saturday 22 April at 9.30pm