Miami Vice Wiki
Little Richard


Miami Vice Character
December 5, 1932, Macon, Georgia
May 9, 2020, Nashville, Tennessee (age 87, cancer)
Ernestine Campbell (1959-1962, divorced)

Richard Wayne Pettiman (December 5, 1932 - May 9, 2020) was an American singer, songwriter, and actor known by his stage name Little Richard, who made his acting debut in the show Miami Vice as the Rev. Marvelle Quinn, who preaches the gospel beachside in the episode "Out Where the Buses Don't Run".


Richard was born in Macon, Georgia, the third of twelve children. He grew up in a religious household, amid the poverty and racism prevalent in the South at that time, and that exposure to religion would guide him for his entire life. He began singing with his family in churches around the Macon area, and his dramatic phrases and vocal turns were a result of influences of the gospel music. Richard began his recording career in 1951, but had no hit records through 1954. In 1955 Richard changed the lyrics to a song he wrote called "Tutti Frutti", and it rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Over the next three years, sixteen Richard singles were released, seven of which reached #1, including "Good Golly, Miss Molly", "Lucille", "Long Tall Sally", and "Slippin' and Slidin'". Richard's concerts were so energetic, the traditional Jim Crow segrationist rules of separate "White" & "Colored" sections of the concert halls were broken down so that by the end of the show, the races were all together enjoying the performances. His road parties during this period were notorious for their plethora of women. Then, in October 1957, he was going from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia for a concert when he had a vision of angels holding up his plane, then during the show, he saw a ball of fire in the heavens (actually the Russian satellite Sputnik) and those two events prompted Richard to quit show business and return to God. After his final show at the Apollo Theatre, he began a gospel music career that lasted for five years.

In 1962, Richard was booked to open for The Beatles in England but he didn't know the show was promoted as a rock 'n' roll concert and performed his gospel music, then when the crowd asked for his rock songs, he gave in and began performing those, to an ecstatic and energized crowd. He then toured with The Rolling Stones and others in England. In 1964 Richard took a young Jimi Hendrix to his band, and recorded several tracks between 1964-65. His popularity continued to be high for the rest of the 1960s, but in the 1970s he had abandoned his religious turn for his previous partying lifestyle, including a dependency on drugs, and continuing to record and tour. Finally, in 1977 after nearly being shot by a close friend due to a drug debt, Richard returned to his evangelism and abandoned his rock & roll partying lifestyle, recording gospel music once again, and preaching to packed houses & churches. He found a way to merge his rock & roll music with his gospel and recorded "Great Gosh-A-Mighty" for the movie Down & Out In Beverly Hills. He was part of the original Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction class of 1986, but had to miss the ceremony due to a broken leg sustained in an automobile accident occurring after his Vice appearance.

In the 1990s and 2000's he continued to make appearances, preach the gospel, and as a reverend, spoke at the funerals of Wilson Pickett & Ike Turner, married Cyndi Lauper to David Thornton and Bruce Willis to Demi Moore, appeared in a GEICO insurance commercial, and recovered from hip surgery in November, 2009. His music continues to be used in TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Vegas, and movies such as The Smurfs 2 and The Expendables 2.

Personal life/Death

Richard has only been married once, to Ernestine Campbell from 1959–62, when they divorced. He went through what he called a period of "bisexuality" during his partying days but has not had any serious relationships since his marriage ended. Richard died of causes related to bone cancer in Nashville, Tennessee on May 9, 2020, at the age of 87.