The truth about "Tutti Frutti"

If nothing else, my Intro to Rock class is going to provide me with some great stories from the annals of rock history. Yesterday we were talking about the main figures in early rock 'n' roll: Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and, of course, Little Richard. Before he went all "born again Christian" on us in the '50s, Little Richard was a flamboyant and energetic piano player with a distinctive falsetto.

We might have learned a lot more about him if he had been allowed to record the original lyrics to "Tutti Frutti." If you've ever listened to the song, it seems like it's just gibberish: "A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-whop-bam-boom!/Tutti frutti, all rooty..." Well there's a pretty good reason.

Here are the original lyrics:

"A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddamn!
Tutti frutti, loose booty
If it don’t fit, don’t force it
You can grease it, make it easy."

Those make a little more sense. Except I don't think 1950s America was ready for a song explicitly about sex...especially between two men.

Producer Robert Blackwell
loved the song, but knew that he would have to change the lyrics before he could record and sell it. He hires local songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie to "rework" them. Suddenly the song becomes about a couple of girls, Sue and Daisy. Funny how that works.

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