Toward the end of his life, Little Richard would often say that he was the model for all the musicians who are now considered to be rock and roll pioneers. The Rolling Stones started thanks to him, Jimi Hendrix collaborated with him, and The Beatles were his opening act. Little Richard was arguably the most influential musician of the 20th century, and although this may sound like an outrageous remark, it’s truly a sad fact. Little Richard: I Am Everything is a work of genius on the part of its director, Lisa Cortés, because it does the work and shows that Little Richard deserved better and deserved more respect for his contributions. Little Richard was an icon who paved the way for everyone who would come after him, from Elvis Presley to Tyler, the Creator, and this film demonstrates that he deserved better and more respect for his contributions.
Little Richard: I Am Everything depicts a legend struggling to reconcile his dual identities. Little Richard was one of the first celebrities to be openly gay. He was a star who celebrated this aspect of his life and revealed to the world precisely who he was. On the other hand, Little Richard was one of the first celebrities to be openly gay. On the other hand, another interpretation of Little Richard depicts him as a man who is having trouble with his faith and is afraid that being who he is at his core may work against him in the afterlife. Little Richard: I Am Everything keeps coming back to a phrase from Richard that states God gave it, show it to the world, and yet Richard struggles with showing the world precisely how God formed him. The quote is from Little Richard: I Am Everything. It’s almost as if Little Richard has a split personality, which is something he struggled to maintain equilibrium with throughout his life.
The documentary directed by Cortés does an outstanding job of showing how Little Richard became the superstar he is today. It delves into his childhood, the drag acts that were becoming popular around the same time as Richard, and the influence that Richard had on the trajectory of the history of music in the years to come. Cortés does an excellent job of presenting the facts, showing that, in fact, Richard was the one who started it all, and he deserves more credit than he received when he was alive. Richard likes to claim that he is “the one that started it all,” Cortés does an excellent job presenting the facts, showing that he did start it all.
Little Richard: I Am Everything contains some engaging portions, some of the most fascinating of which reveal the various celebrities he affected. John Waters describes how his extremely thin moustache has been a tribute to Little Richard for the past few decades. Mick Jagger mentioned that he learned much about being a great frontman from watching Little Richard every night when he was just starting the music business. The Beatles are seen on archival footage expressing their profound respect for the performer they were opening for in Hamburg. Cortés shows a montage of all the musicians who came after him toward the end of the movie. Despite the fact that the clips are quick and there are a lot of them, we can easily thread the line from Little Richard to some of the greatest musicians and artists of the last century thanks to the work that Cortés did here.
There are times when Little Richard brings us back to the early days of his career, and during those times, there is a type of enchantment or glitter that emanates from him and spreads throughout the environment. It is almost as if Cortés is showing us that Little Richard permeated people around him simply by virtue of his talents and being who he was. This tremendous presence left an indelible impression on the annals of music history.
Little Richard’s slogan in his later years became “shut up,” he yearned for the credit he was given, and he was incredibly lonely and only wanted love. Cortés does not hide from these aspects of Little Richard’s life, which is a sensible decision on his part. Even though we can see the legacy left behind, the tragedy of his life is a lack of self-acceptance, and the appropriation of his talents that made others extremely popular artists, and left him behind, waiting for the appreciation he deserved. Even though we can see the legacy left behind, the tragedy of his life is a lack of self-acceptance, and the appropriation of his talents that made others extremely popular artists.
Little Richard: I Am Everything must cover a lot of ground in its very limited running time, including investigating the musician’s beginnings, elaborating on both aspects of his personality, and delving into Richard’s impact on the development of music in the years to come. Thankfully, Cortés’ documentary does a wonderful job handling all of this. It will make viewers want to learn more about Richard, his incredibly enjoyable art, and the life that influenced many others around him.