Little Richard was many things, a rock n’ roll pioneer, an influencer, and an early hero to the queer community.
The new documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything explores the complex legacy of the musician many consider the architect of rock ‘n roll. The singer-songwriter had a decades-long career that included the hits “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy,” and “Lucille.”
But the musician, born in Macon, Georgia in 1932, was before his time. The film uses archival footage and interviews to look back on the late performer’s life.
“Little Richard’s lyrics were too lewd to get airplay on the radio,” a voicevoer in the trailer says.
Some of his songs like “Tutti Frutti” were recorded by “safer” white artists to clean up for white audiences.
“They said we’re going to put the white butts on it,” Richard explains in the trailer. “Did you know Elvis Presley and Pat Boone sold more copies of ‘Tutti Frutti’ than I did?”
The documentary also explores Little Richard’s sexuality.
Raised to believe being gay was a sin, the singer struggled with his sexual identity and later renounced homosexuality. The trailer previews how he fought for freedom of expression but not always his own.
The film is directed by Lisa Cortés and produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films.
Little Richard: I Am Everything arrives in theaters for a one-night-only screening on April 11 via Magnolia Pictures. Additional theatrical releases and a digital release are set for April 21.
Watch the trailer below.