Rock and roll lost its architect on Saturday morning. Richard Wayne Penniman, more famously known as Little Richard, died at the age of 87 after a battle with bone cancer. As is oftentimes the case whenever someone as massively influential as Little Richard passes away, tributes have been pouring in all day remembering an icon who made an indelible impact on all genres of music.
One such tribute came in via Spike Lee, who recalled a commercial he shot with Little Richard back in 1991. As was the case for many ads Lee shot during that era, this was for Air Jordan, with Lee in the Mars Blackmon character that he portrayed in the film She’s Gotta Have It. While Michael Jordan does make a cameo a little later in the commercial, Little Richard pops up as a genie who grants Blackmon a wish to become the Chicago Bulls’ superstar.
Rest In Peace To One Of The True Creators Of Rock And Roll. This Is The Commercial I Directed With Little Richard And Michael Jordan, 1991. pic.twitter.com/51bEV1eYKB
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLeeJoint) May 9, 2020
It is a wonderful commercial that fits that era of Air Jordan ads while also using Little Richard perfectly as a larger-than-life genie. One thing that we’ve seen over and over in The Last Dance is how Jordan existed at the intersection of sports and popular culture, and while Lee’s ads were oftentimes an excellent example of this, it’s hard to highlight that better than by doing one with someone as influential as Little Richard.