Little Richard’s reign as a Top 40 hitmaker may have been relatively brief, but thanks to his larger-than-life persona, love of the camera, and eagerness to perform anywhere and everywhere, he stayed in the spotlight decade after decade. That’s one reason his death is touching so many different generations today.
When Martin needed someone to play a goofy exterminator, Little Richard was there. When Baywatch needed a star to come to the beach and play a song everyone knew, there he was pounding out “Good Golly, Miss Molly” near the surf. And when Full House needed to bring in a rock icon to play at a rally for Uncle Joey when he ran for PTA president, guess who took their call?
The Full House episode in question is “Little Richard Too Late” from Season Seven, which aired on May 10th, 1994. It begins with Uncle Jesse buying his family tickets to see Little Richard, but they’re ruined when his twin sons Nicky and Alex cut them into little pieces for an art project.
Amazingly, Little Richard happens to be the uncle of Michelle’s friend Denise and he stops by the house that same day. The entire gang, including Kimmy Gibbler and Michelle’s buddy Derek, follow him down to the basement where he plays “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (a song he’d recorded a few years earlier for a Disney benefit album) on Jesse’s keyboard. Check out the whole scene right here. Later in the show, he performs “Keep A-Knockin'” with Jesse and the Rippers at the Smash Club.
Some old-time fans may have felt it was undignified for such a legend to appear on a show like Full House, but for many kids who grew up in the Nineties, this was probably the first time they learned he even existed. The Beach Boys also jammed with the Tanners on several Full House episodes, broadening their own audience in the process. The memories are probably quite fuzzy for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, since they were so young at the time, but they got to jam with some of the greats.