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Little Richard Credits God for Crash Survival

From Associated Press

Rocker-turned-evangelist Little Richard thanked God for saving his life in a sports car crash, but said in Los Angeles on Friday that he is still in pain and remembers nothing of the accident two weeks ago.

In a news conference at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the 52-year-old singer praised God and his doctors for repairing a badly fractured right leg.

“I feel good. I’m just so glad to be alive,” said Little Richard, whose full name is Richard Wayne Penniman. “My first thanks is to the great God Jehovah for sparing me. I was supposed to be gone. He was a pillow and a cushion to me.

“I said somebody upstairs must like that little old black boy from Georgia that sang ‘Tutti Frutti,’ ” Little Richard said.

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Little Richard, wearing a blue and white turban and matching pajamas and sporting a pencil mustache, was wheeled into the conference room with his legs elevated. A steel brace was visible on his right leg.

The singer said he recalled nothing of the Oct. 8 accident on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

“All I remember is waking up in a Jewish hospital and saying ‘Thank God,’ ” he said.

Authorities said he apparently lost control of a rented Nissan 300SX while driving at a high rate of speed and crashed into a telephone pole.

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No alcohol was found in his blood, but authorities have said he still may face charges of reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.

Dr. Edwin Gromis, an orthopedic surgeon, said Little Richard was lucky to survive the accident.

During surgery, a steel rod was implanted in his right thigh bone, which had been shattered into seven or eight major fragments and required two operations to repair, Gromis said.

“His prognosis for recovery is excellent,” Gromis said. He said Little Richard would probably remain in the hospital another week to 10 days, and could resume normal activities in five to six months.

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Little Richard said he would continue preaching while pursuing film roles. He appeared as a preacher in a recent episode of NBC’s “Miami Vice.” But the ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister said preaching and gospel singing will be his primary interest, especially given what he called his miraculous survival.

“I been walking by Him. Now I’m getting in His arms,” Little Richard said. “I have never been at death’s door. This is the first time.”

Little Richard gained popularity in the 1950s with his gut-wrenching fusion of gospel, rhythm-and-blues and rock ‘n’ roll. But his huge pompadour, outrageous costumes and heavy makeup made him the bane of parents.

In 1975, he swore off rock ‘n’ roll and a hedonistic life style to devote his life to preaching and gospel singing.

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