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The Religious Affiliation of Rock and Roll Star
Little Richard


Little Richard is a long-time member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The many ups and downs of his life include surprising continued devotion to the church, despite his fame and frequently unusual lifestyle. Little Richard attends the Ephasis Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, California.

From: David W. Cloud, "1950s Rock -- Creating a Revolution", distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service, copyright 2001 (http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/1950srock.htm; viewed 19 July 2005):

Little Richard grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist family, but he mostly attended the New Hope Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia (Turner, Hungry for Heaven, p. 19). He also attended a Holiness church. He learned to play the piano and tried to sing gospel music, but he was rejected from some churches for screaming the hymns. When he was 13, his father (who sold bootleg whiskey) kicked him out of the house because of his bi-sexuality and rebellion. He moved in with a family who ran the Tick Tock Club, where he began performing. By 1950, Little Richard was a homosexual "drag queen," wearing dresses and make-up. He was arrested at least twice for lewd conduct...

In 1955, Little Richard had his first big hit, "Tutti Frutti." The words were so filthy they had to be rewritten. Though preachers who denounced him were labeled racists

...Little Richard continues to dress somewhat in a feminine fashion and use women's makeup, though he is married and is the father of children. In his 1984 authorized biography, The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White, Little Richard was quoted as saying: "Homosexuality is contagious. It's not something you're born with."

Little Richard... has been in and out of rock as well as in and out of religion. In 1957, he quit his successful rock career, claiming he had been warned of his own damnation in a vision. He took Voice of Prophecy courses (Seventh-day Adventist), attended Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, and was ordained a minister in the Church of God of the Ten Commandments. He stated that rock music is of the Devil and that it is not possible to be a rocker and to please God at the same time. In 1959, he married a Christian girl named Ernestine. In 1964, he returned to recording and performing rock music, as well as to his sex orgies and drug abuse... In the late 1970s he again renounced rock, drugs, and homosexuality, and once more began preaching and singing gospel music, this time for the Universal Remnant Church of God. He traveled and preached to hundreds of thousands of people. For awhile he represented Memorial Bibles International and sold the Black Heritage Bible. In his sermons in the late '70s and early '80s, Little Richard proclaimed that it is not possible to perform rock and to serve God at the same time. He said, "I like Pat Boone as a friend, but he's trying to serve two masters. Pat believes he can go to Las Vegas and do his thing, then preach on Sunday. I don't believe we can do that. God has not called us to do that. I can never see myself going back to Rock 'n' Roll" (The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 202). In 1984, though, Little Richard launched another comeback in the rock world and ever since he has attempted to reconcile his role as a rock and roll star and his role as a preacher. In January 1993, he and Chuck Berry performed at President Bill Clinton's private inauguration party.

Little Richard has testified that rock music is demonic:

"My true belief about Rock 'n' Roll--and there have been a lot of phrases attributed to me over the years--is this: I believe this kind of music is demonic. ... A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you'll see that is true. I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious" (Little Richard, quoted by Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 197).

"I was directed and commanded by another power. The power of darkness ... The power that a lot of people don't believe exists. The power of the Devil. Satan" (Little Richard, quoted in The Life and Times of Little Richard, pp. 205,206).

Little Richard's theology is a homogenous mixture of Bible, Seventh-day Adventism, even New Age. In his preaching during the late 1970s and 1980s, he proclaimed salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, but he also preached that the Christian must keep the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath (The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 199). He praised Seventh-day Adventist preachers such as H.M.S. Richards and George Vandeman (Ibid., p. 202). He noted that Ellen G. White's book The Great Controversy, which his mother owned, had an influence on him (Ibid., p. 91). In 1985, he summarized his views: "I can't go to a Bible study. Most of my inspiration comes directly from God's Spirit. ... There are good people in all churches. Some Buddhists really love God. Some Jehovah's Witnesses, too. It doesn't matter what church you belong to! Only God can read a man's heart" (Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, February 1985, p. 2).

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Webpage created 19 July 2005. Last modified 19 July 2005.
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