Good golly, Miss Piggy! Tutti-Frutti, oh Raffi! The latest — and perhaps most unlikely — rocker to cross over to the children’s-music business is Little Richard. Famous for music that he claimed ”made your liver quiver, your bladder splatter, your knees freeze, and your big toe shoot right through your boot,” Richard, now 59, aims to entertain a whole new generation with Shake it all About, a 12-song collection of children’s tunes that gooses the tot-rock set by turning up the volume on such kids’ classics as ”Old MacDonald.”
Judging by the enthusiastic reactions last month of the eight kids on the Burbank, Calif., set of the album’s first video, ”On Top of Spaghetti,” Little Richard hasn’t lost his gift. ”To be appreciated by a younger audience gives you energy,” raves Richard during a break. He first joined forces with Disney last year to record a hip-hop version of ”Itsy Bitsy Spider” on For Our Children, an all-star album benefiting the Pediatric Aids Foundation.
”That song literally leapt off the album,” says label VP Mark Jaffe, who gave Shake the green light. ”Little Richard redefines children’s music in the same way he revolutionized music as a rock & roll pioneer.”
How does the ever-wholesome Disney reconcile its reputation with the artist’s sexually tinged image? ”What matters is the quality of his contribution,” says Jaffe, ”the special magnetism he communicates to parents and kids.”
Little Richard, too, is focused on his no-longer-prurient present. ”I’ve buried the past — like a politician,” he says. ”It’s a new time for me — a new era, a new way, a new day.” Awop-bop-a-loo-mop alop-bam-boom!