On May 9, 2020, we said farewell to one of the icons of music, Richard Wayne Penniman, better known by his stage name Little Richard. The legendary rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk artist passed away at the age of 87 in Nashville, Tennessee. In honor of his memory, today we look at one of Little Richard’s most prominent and influential works, “Tutti Frutti.”
Released on November 1, 1955, “Tutti Fruti” has endured the test of time. Covered by many legendary artists such as Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and more, the song became a major influence in rock and roll culture. Some would argue that “Tutti Frutti” single handedly gave a boom to rock and roll genre of music. This should not come asmuch of a surprise when Little Richard himself is honored as ‘The Architect of Rock and Roll.’
In 2010, the U.S. Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the recording to its registry, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music.” In April 2012, Rolling Stone magazine declared that the song “still contains what has to be considered the most inspired rock lyric ever recorded: ‘A wop bop alu bop, a wop bam boom!'”
The song also charted at #2 on R&B charts, #17 on Billboard Hot 100. However, it made into the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs at #43.
Original Lyrics to “Tutti Frutti” Controversy
According to many accounts, Little Richard wrote “Tutti Frutti” lyrics working as a janitor at a bus station. His frustration with work led him to yell “Awap bop a lup bop a wop bam boom, take ’em out!” under his breath at his boss. This became his catchphrase to this song and for many of his songs to follow.
The initial lyrics to the song contained;
“Tutti Frutti, good booty
If it don’t fit, don’t force it
You can grease it, make it easy”
These lines, referring to an obvious sexual encounter, were deemed too atrocious and sexually suggestive for 1955 audiences. Hence, the hook was ‘cleaned’ up to suit the masses.
The lyrics then changed to;
“Tutti Frutti, aw rooty
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty”
“Aw rooty” is slang for ‘all right.’
Listen to “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard
“Tutti Frutti” Lyrics Review and Song Meaning
The infamous hook of the song underwent several we-writes and ended up with “Tutti Frutti, oh Rudy” adding yet another name to his “Sue” and “Daisy” girls that follow. In Italian, the song title means “all fruits.” It is clear that Little Richard had envisioned certain fruit-shaped girls into this song 🍑.
Both the verses on the song pronounce adoration for different girls. Each verse is dedicated to a girl, named Sue and Daisy respectively. But none of the verses lack any sexual undertone Little Richard intended to bring with his original hook.
In the two verses, Little Richard sings how these ladies know how to rock his world and drive him crazy; “She knows how to love me, yes indeed.”
Not surprisingly, the song is still popular to-date and Little Richard’s legendary style and influence will forever live on through songs like these.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below.