I’ll ask again — if America is so evil, how the hell an obviously gay (and insane) black guy who wore makeup and hairspray, banged on a piano and screamed about loving either teenaged girls or Jesus wasn’t either locked up or lynched — but became (if not rich, alas) pretty damned famous, and is still alive at a ripe old age?
Once upon a time there was a piano-pounding R&B “shouter” from the South who would take the stage sporting a six-inch pompadour, rhinestone shades, brocaded shirts, heavy lipstick, and heavier jewelry—and his name was not Little Richard. In style, image, and performance mayhem, Esquerita taught Richard Penniman how to be Little Richard. Thus, there is more than a little selective memory when Little Richard routinely proclaims himself the “originator” and a dose of hypocrisy when he periodically claims that Prince stole his act. (…)
Some have attempted to re-dress history’s shortcomings. Mick Jones, of the Clash fame, recorded a tribute song to Esquerita in 1988 with Big Audio Dynamite in which he described his subject as “Black Flash Gordon Rocket ‘58”. The Cramps and other punkabilly acts have also either openly cited Esquerita as a source of influence or have adopted his camp charms or rambunctious methods.