When the Atlanta Games come to a close on Aug. 4, sports-sated viewers will be treated to a spectacle of another flavor: Little Richard, the self-described ”architect and emancipator” of rock & roll, banging out ”Good Golly Miss Molly” with his trademark keyboard pyrotechnics at the closing ceremony. The Artist Formerly Known as Richard Penniman recently took a few minutes to share his thoughts on sports, athletes, and potential Olympic demonstration events.
1 What’s your favorite sport? Basketball. But at the age of 63, I don’t take it to the hoop much. I know when Michael Jordan drinks Gatorade, it makes him go to the hoop; when I drink it, it makes me go to the piano.
2 So how high can you jump? How high can I jump? Oh, boy. Oh, man. You’ve heard of White Men Can’t Jump? Well, I reckon I’m a white man, ’cause I can’t jump. It’s not my thing. I’m not a jumper, I’m a bumper. Or a humper.
3 Do you have a workout regimen? When I’m on the stage, that’s a workout.
4 Did you play sports in school? I was always in the band in high school. I played the alto saxophone.
5 Do you prefer the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat? The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat is very bad. I love that thrrrrrrrill of victory. I like to thrill at will, and I don’t kill, but I like to bill.
6 Are you a team player or more of a solo type? I’m a solo. Sometimes I get ”so low” I don’t know that I’m there. So low you can’t go lower. I’m down there.
7 What sport would you want to see added to the Olympics? They should add the Tutti Frutti to the Olympics. That’s out of Georgia, and since it’s the Peach State, we’ll play it with peaches. We’ll knock peaches over the net, and whoever gets the ripest peach, they win the game. Little Richard’s gonna invite everybody to come down to play the Tutti Frutti game at the Olympics.
8 Do you have a favorite Olympian? I like Carl Lewis and Mary Lou Retton. They’re both fantastic. I like a lot of them, though. It’s such a beautiful thing to happen every year. Is it every year or every other year?
9 Speaking of Olympians, have you broken any records? Oh, yes. I break piano strings and break a lot of things. I beat it to the flow, and you know I let it go, and I say, ”Ho, ho, ho!” Yeah, I got the fastest right hand in the world. There’s a difference between playing and whuppin’. Oooh! I whup the piano, baby!
10 Should more athletes adopt cool monikers like yours? Mr. Midnight and Daybreak: Wouldn’t those be good names? Instead of Michael Jordan, Midnight. Instead of Larry Bird, Daybreak. And Kikakokey. And Booleylooley. Or Hooeykookey. Those are some very beautiful names. I love those names! Ain’t no shame in my game. Everybody’s got a game. Thank you, baby.