Little Richard mourns Percy Welch

MACON, Ga., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Little Richard returned home to Macon, Ga., for the funeral of Melvin C. "Percy" Welch and told how Welch literally gave him the shirt off his back.

In a contrast to days gone by, the flashily dressed rocker arrived at the church in a stretch limousine, the Macon Telegraph reported Sunday. He recalled his first gig at the Apollo Theatre.


"I didn't have clothes," Little Richard said from the dais Saturday.

"My mama had 12 kids. My daddy was a bootlegger, and the boot was empty that day."

Welch gave him clothes and the keys to his blue Buick so he could make the gig, Little Richard said.

Welch died at his home Feb. 8 of kidney failure. He was 75.

Little Richard wasn't the only musician touched by Welch. He coached Otis Redding and worked with Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Gladys Knight and The Drifters, the Telegraph said.

Welch spent his final months recording a solo CD expected to be released later this year.

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