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'He let us all know we can make it': Macon music scene remembers Little Richard

Macon musicians reflected on the way Little Richard carved his own path and overcame obstacles to reach success.

MACON, Ga. — Little Richard became known as the architect of Rock and Roll, but he did it by overcoming many obstacles along the way beginning in Macon. 

The legend passed away Saturday at the age of 87.

"He worked at this bus station here in Macon, Georgia," said musician Johnny Hollingshed, Jr. "Then, he performed at the Tic Toc Room." 

Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman, broke racial barriers in the 1950s South.

"... and then come through it all and be one of the greatest Rock and Roll musicians to ever live," said Richard Brent, director of The Big House Museum.  

"He let us all know that we could make it. He let us all know we can make it. He made us all realize we can achieve higher heights," Hollingshed said. 

Another obstacle was starting in a controversial music genre at the time.

"It was much like the blues," Brent said. "It was the devil's music or whatever you wanted to call it. It just wasn't accepted by society."

You can't talk about Little Richard without mentioning his piercing vocals paired with that pounding piano. 

"His tone was just this fierce projection that he could get out with his vocals. He hit those high notes... rocking that piano. His tone was visceral," said Rob Evans, Capricorn Studios' chief engineer. 

Evans says Little Richard also broke musical barriers with the lyrics in his songs.

"They were a little bit naughty… that Rock and Roll essence. It influenced musicians worldwide," Evans said. 

Those musicians include the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He also paved the way for musicians in Central Georgia like Otis Redding. 

Little Richard was physical proof that if you put the energy into it, dreams do come true. 

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