Carl Perkins

Happy Birthday

Carl Lee Perkins
April 9, 1932
Tiptonville, Tennessee

Perkins was born near Tiptonville, Tennessee, the son of poor sharecroppers, Buck and Hattie Perkins. Beginning at age 4, Carl worked in the fields 20 hours a day for a penny. All his family members worked, so there was enough money for beans and potatoes, tobacco and Wild Turkey for Perkins's father, and occasionally the luxury of a five-cent bag of hard candy.

On Saturday nights, Carl would listen to The Grand Ole Opry. He especially loved Roy Acuff. They could not afford a guitar, so his father made him one out of a gunney sack and a sheeps intestines. Finally, his father bought a used guitar from a neighbor for $3 and a chicken. 

Perkins taught himself to play guitar and learned the blues from an old field hand, "Uncle John".

Starting in the late 1940's, Perkins and his brother Jay began playing all over Tennessee. 
Perkins successfully auditioned for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in early October 1954. In the autumn of 1955, Perkins wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" after seeing a dancer get angry with his date for scuffing up his shoes. Several weeks later, on December 19, 1955, Perkins and his band recorded the song during a session at Sun Studio in Memphis. Phillips suggested changes to the lyrics ("Go, cat, go"), and the band changed the end of the song to a "boogie vamp". Presley left Sun for a RCA in November, and on December 19, 1955, Phillips, who had begun recording Perkins in late 1954, told Perkins, "Carl Perkins, you're my rockabilly cat now." Released on January 1, 1956, "Blue Suede Shoes" was a massive chart success. In the United States, it reached number 1 on Billboard magazine's country music chart (the only number 1 success he would have) and number 2 on the Billboard Best Sellers popular music chart. On March 17, Perkins became the first country artist to reach number 3 on the rhythm and blues charts.

After playing a show in Norfolk, Virginia, on March 21, 1956, the Perkins Brothers Band headed to New York City for a March 24 appearance on NBC-TV's Perry ComoShow. Shortly before sunrise on March 22, on Route 13 between Dover and Woodside, Delaware, Stuart Pinkham (also known as Richard Stuart and Poor Richard) assumed duties as driver. After hitting the back of a pickup truck, their car went into a ditch containing about a foot of water, and Perkins was left lying face down in the water. Drummer Holland rolled Perkins over, saving him from drowning. He had sustained three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a severe concussion, a broken collar bone, and lacerations all over his body in the crash. Perkins remained unconscious for an entire day. The driver of the pickup truck, Thomas Phillips, a 40-year-old farmer, died when he was thrown into the steering wheel. Jay Perkins had a fractured neck and severe internal injuries; he never fully recovered and died in 1958.

Carl Perkins' songs personified the rockabilly era, and Carl Perkins' sound personifies the rockabilly sound more so than anybody involved in it, because he never changed. Perkins's songs were recorded by artists (and friends) as influential as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton which further established his place in the history of popular music. Paul McCartney claimed that "if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles."

Called "the King of Rockabilly", he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He also received a Grammy Hall of FameAward. Who could forget the music!? "Blue Suede Shoes", "Honey Don't", "Matchbox" and many more. 

Remembering Carl Perkins on his Birthday!  Thank You for the music Carl Perkins!

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