COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. — It’s no secret that the Shoals is home to some amazingly talented people. But it’s not just the talent living there that makes it special, it’s also the talent that’s drawn to it.
Little Richard recorded the album “The Rill Thing” at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals in the early 1970s. Travis Wammack played guitar on the album and eventually joined Little Richard’s band. He said the singer’s passing marks the end of an era.
“We knew he had been ill,” said Wammack. “My thing was it’s kind of like Buddy Holly, the day the music stopped. When I heard Little Richard was gone, the day rock and roll stopped because he is, in my opinion, he was the greatest rock and roll singer.”
Kelvin Holly also played guitar for Little Richard for 18 years until the singer retired due to health reasons.
“I always knew Little Richard was a legend,” said Holly. “More than anything, I saw how he worked the crowd because he generally—you could tell that he really cared about the people. There were a lot of times where he went over the time curfew because the people just wouldn’t let him go.”
Wayne Chaney called WHNT News 19 to tell us of Little Richard’s passing. He served as band leader up until the very end.
“It’s devastating,” said Chaney. “Being around this guy for 30 years, he’s part of my family. My girls grew up knowing him, he called my mother little mama and all that sort of stuff. We’re all family.”
And it’s Little Richard’s family spirit along with his boldness, talent, and charisma that made him a legend.