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MEMORIAL DAY FLASHBACK: Once flamboyant Little Richard says he is not 'gay' anymore

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Little Richard plays the piano during a live performance in an undated photo [Getty]

During an interview on the Late Night with David Letterman show on May 4, 1982, the often flamboyant and controversial super star entertainer who claimed to be the "architect" of rock," Lil' Richard declared that he was not gay any more.

"I'm not gay now. But I was gay all my life. I believe I was one of the first gay people to come out. But God let me know that he made Adam to be with Eve, not Steve," Richard said, drawing laughter and applause from some people in the studio audience.

"I'm a man for the first time in my life. I know how you feel now," he further declared after being pressed by Letterman, again eliciting laughter from those in attendance.

When asked what he was doing now, Little Richard said that he was an evangelist who traveled the world preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He confessed that he was once addicted to both "heroin, angel dust, everything...acid."

Richard revealed that he had changed his life after seeing his colleagues like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly pass, while God spared him. And after witnessing several other deaths around him, he decided to change his life and serve God.

"I made a vow to God that I wanted to do something in his service. I was determined to give my life to Christ before it was too late...If a person sees me they can see that I'm a new creature. If any man be in Christ, God made me all over again."

"Are you're a satisfied person now?" Letterman asked. "I'm happy now because I have peace of mind that surpasses all understanding," Richard replied.

He was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia in 1932 and claimed that his father kicked him out of their southern Baptist household because he was too effeminate, and that he was forced to find somewhere else to live when Richard was 16 or 17 years old.

He stated that he was signed to RCA Victor recording company before Elvis Presley but was relegated to its label Camden, due to the prejudices of his era. He cited the same prejudices for forbidding him to perform live as "a straight dude" because white people thought he wanted the girls in the audience and would not allow him to perform unless he put on makeup, wigs and flamboyant outfits.

Richard also revealed that Jimi Hendrix was once his guitarist and that he had mentored Billy Preston, James Brown, Otis Redding, The Beatles, Mick Jagger and James Brown.

Speaking on his financial stability after being "exploited" and robbed of his wealth by his managers, Richard said, "I'm not Reverend Ike. But God has been good to me. I don't tell people they are going to have no pie in the sky by and by. I've had enough pie down here. When I go to Heaven, I'm just going to be with Jesus."

Little Richard died on May 09, 2020, Tullahoma, Tennessee. "God gave me the victory," he said during his interview with Letterman.



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