Little Richard’s Influence on Rock and Roll
Rock and roll music emerged as a part of American teen culture during the notably conservative time period in the country’s history which shortly followed the traumatic events of World War II. Being that the genre’s target audience was white teenagers, many Americans- already overwhelmed and on-edge due to the anti-communist movement inspired by the Cold War- were apprehensive about the influence that this up-and-coming style of music might have on their country’s future. America’s youth openly accepted rock and roll’s racially integrated culture of performers and embraced the relatively lewd nature of many songs and performances associated with the genre, much to the dismay of their elders. Richard Wayne Penniman (better known by his stage name, Little Richard) had an important influence on the history of rock and roll music because of his unconventional stage presence and explicit sexuality. Artists such as Little Richard aggressively pushed the envelope, defied social norms and generated controversy. Richard, along with a few fellow pioneers, helped to define rock and roll in its early years, and paved the way for rock and rollers of future generations. Penniman’s work left an everlasting impression on the musical genre and culture that is rock and roll. Considering the time in America’s history during which Little Richard appeared on the rock and roll scene, it is completely appropriate to attribute much of his fame and influence to his unconventional stage presence. The rising popularity of television during the 1950’s fundamentally changed the music industry by presenting artists with an entirely new way to market themselves (or be marketed). Being televised meant that the overall look and presence of an artist played a more crucial role in stimulating audiences; the focus of listeners was no longer solely the sound of the music being produced. Prior to T.V., music fans were only able to enjoy the sounds...
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