That Time Little Richard Got Arrested At The NAT
Remember when concerts and shows were all about class and enjoyment? Yeah, neither do I. Most shows today are all about shock value and sexiness.
However, there was a time when performers were expected to be the epitome of class on that stage. They were expected to dress a certain way, act in a particular manner and not incite TOO much excitement.
Then the birth of rock & roll happened. Performers such Elvis Presley completely changed the landscape of live shows, and there was just no turning back. Gyrating hip movements and just oozing sexuality became a thing.
However, venues that hosted these shows still felt they could control the content of the live show and essentially laid the law down on them.
In Amarillo though, the law actually got involved.
Little Richard, real name Richard Penniman, was performing a show at the NAT in 1956. Little Richard was this flamboyant soul who was a good looking guy and phenomenal performer. His music was loud, boisterous and excitable...just like he was. He LOVED putting on a show and riling up the crowd.
Then this fateful day in 1956, it all caught up with him.
An Amarillo District Attorney happened to be attending this particular show at The NAT and wasn't too thrilled with what he was seeing. He decided to take matters into his own hands and do something to restore order.
Back in the day, concerts tended to have intermissions where the performer would take a break then return to the stage for the second half of the show. Little did the crowd know there would be no second half of the show on this evening.
During his intermission, Little Richard was approached by the DA who asked him to change his performance. Well, Little Richard didn't seem to care much for his request as he loudly objected to the DA's request. What was it about the show that got the DA so riled up?
Little Richard took his shirt off. Yup, that's it. He bared his upper half for the crowd (who I imagined squealed with excitement), and the DA was having none of it.
So the DA managed to get the authorities to arrest Penniman for "lewd behavior", even though he had really done nothing illegal. It's not like he exposed parts of his body that would be considered "lewd", he simply took his shirt off.
The authorities hauled Little Richard away, the show was over and history was made. I don't believe anything else ever came of the arrest, but it was a moment in history made at The NAT.