Ava DuVernay Says Little Richard Tipped Her $100 Weekly When She Was a Waitress

Illustration for article titled Ava DuVernay Says Little Richard Tipped Her $100 Weekly When She Was a Waitress
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images), Vince Bucci (Getty Images)

Many of us posted our memories and sincerest condolences to social media in honor of the legendary musical figures who passed away over the weekend: Andre Harrell, Betty Wright and Little Richard. Little Richard, in particular, who died on Saturday, May 9 at the age of 87, is being remembered and revered as a pioneer of rock-and-roll music. His unapologetic nature and reclaiming of his rightful seat in the upper echelon of legends were largely highlighted throughout the weekend.

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Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay offered a heartwarming anecdote about the soulful “Tutti Frutti” musician, writing that he was more than just a supremely gifted artist, but a genuinely kind and helpful spirit.

“I served soul food brunch to Little Richard every Sunday for a year while waitressing at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in LA,” she wrote on Twitter of her college job. “He tipped me a crisp $100 bill each week on a $75 breakfast with friends. This was 30 years ago. Helped me so much. God rest his soul.” When asked by one of her followers if she connected with the music legend after she made it big as a director, she said she never saw him again.

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During his extraordinary lifetime, Little Richard became one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1986, and in 1993 he received an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. Rolling Stone, who confirmed his passing over the weekend, ranked him No. 8 on their list of the Greatest Artists of All Time and No. 12 on their list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.

Pronounced "Jay-nuh."

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Rolling Stones guitar player Keith Richards put together a great documentary about Chuck Berry called “Hail, Hail Rock n Roll.” (Taylor Hackford directed.) The premise of the film is that Berry never had a truly great band backing him up, so Richards puts together an all-star band to play with Berry and to acknowledge how important Berry was to Richards’ own career. (Berry used to travel without a band and just hire locals to back him when he toured.)

I bring it up here because there are some fantastic interview interludes, including some with Little Richard. Little Richard sits with Berry and Bo Diddley and they talk about the trials and tribulations of being Black musicians during the 1950s.

Here is a clip:

RIP Little Richard

(and RIP Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch. The old spot in Marina Del Rey became a post office.)