Little Richard is arguably the primary architect of Rock & Roll and he influenced countless artists throughout that genre and many more, including Prince, James Brown and Michael Jackson. His unapologetically flamboyant style, combined with his many innovations in music, performance and stage presence, make him a pioneer among pioneers. Little Richard’s hits Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally and Good Golly, Miss Molly “defined the dynamic sound of Rock & Roll” (according to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural Class of 1986. Little Richard left us on May 9, 2020 at the age of 87 from bone cancer. He is gone but not forgotten.
Andre Harrell is from my generation. Growing up in the NYC/NJ area in the 80’s and 90’s was special. Hip Hop was flowering into the global force we now all recognize it to be, and Andre Harrell as an artist and executive was at the forefront. As a high schooler in the mid-80’s I, along with my best friend, decided to take a “fresh” approach to our English assignment, we bust a Dr. Jeckyll (Andre Harrell) & Mr. Hyde (Alonzo Brown) rap – the Genius Rap, and of course we got an “A.” Andre went on to lead Uptown Records to dizzying heights with artists like Mary J. Blige, Teddy Riley and Guy, Al B. Sure, Heavy D, Jodeci and Father M.C. Of course he had this young intern at his company who became his head of A&R, Mr. Sean “Puffy” Combs. Later Andre went on to work for Puffy at Bad Boy, cementing a legacy in the business like few others. Andre Harrell left us on May 7, 2020 at the age of 59 from a heart condition. He is gone but not forgotten.
Betty Wright is from my parents’ generation, so I automatically assumed she was the age of my late parents, since I distinctly recall hearing the songs “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight is the Night” playing when I was a young child. Little did I know that a 17 year-old could sing about being the “Clean Up Woman.” She obviously was precocious, an old soul and she had seen some “ish.” She is beloved for her soulful voice that included being able to hit the whistle register. She went on to other hits in the 70’, 80’s and 90’s and formed her own record label in the 80’s, becoming the first black woman to score a gold record on her own label. Betty Wright left us on May 10, 2020 at the age of 66 from cancer. She is gone but not forgotten.