- The third of 12 children, he sang in his family's gospel group, the Penniman Singers.
- Started his own gospel band, the Tiny Tots Quartet, when he was just 10 years old.
- Dropped out of school and ran away from home at 14, joining the traveling Dr. Hudson's Medicine Show.
- Cut his first blues records in 1951, but didn't release a successful single until the rollicking 1955 hit "Tutti Fruti," which had to be rewritten because its original lyrics were considered too sexual.
- Left show business in 1957, though the reasons for his temporary retirement vary greatly.
- After recording a number of religious songs and being ordained as a Seventh Day Adventist minister, he returned to secular music in the early '60s.
- Before hitting it big, rock legend Jimi Hendrix played guitar in Richard's band, while the Rolling Stones opened for him on a 1963 European tour.
- Was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1993 Grammys.
- Horace "Tony" Penniman — Brother
- Walter Penniman — Brother
- Danny — Son
- Charita Penniman — Niece
- Charles Penniman II — Nephew
- Dena Penniman — Nephew
- Leva "Sylvia" — Sister
- Robert Penniman — Brother
- Leva Mae Penniman — Mother
- Elnora "Peggie" — Sister
- Freka Merrill — Sister
- Peyton Penniman — Brother
- Artis "Elaine" Harmison — Sister
- Charles "Bud" Penniman — Father
- Gail — Sister
- Ernestine Campbell — Ex-wife
- Laudina Penniman — Niece
- Charles Penniman Jr. — Brother
- Marquette Penniman — Brother
- Oakwood College, Huntsville, Alabama, United States (BA in Theology)
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