Carl Lee Perkins (April 9, 1932 – January 19, 1998) was an
American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun
Studio, in Memphis, beginning in 1954. His best-known song is "Blue
According to Charlie Daniels, "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, and Johnny
Cash, which further established his place in the history of popular
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
Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Beginnings as a performer
1.3 Sun Records
1.4 Road accident
1.5 Return to recording and touring
1.6 Life after Sun
1.7 Later years
1.8 Personal life
5.1 Studio albums
5.2 Collaborative albums
5.3 Live albums
5.4 Religious albums
5.5 Selected compilations
5.6 Guest appearances
5.7 Charted albums
5.8 Charted singles
8 External links
Perkins was born near Tiptonville, Tennessee, the son of poor
sharecroppers, Buck and Louise Perkins (misspelled on his birth
certificate as "Perkings"). He grew up hearing southern gospel
music sung by white friends in church and by
workers when he worked in the cotton fields. Beginning at the age
of six, during spring and autumn, school days would be followed by a
few hours of work in the fields. In the summer, workdays were 12 to 14
hours, "from can to can't." Perkins and his brother Jay together would
earn 50 cents a day. All his family members worked, so there was
enough money for beans and potatoes, tobacco for Perkins's father, and
occasionally the luxury of a five-cent bag of hard candy.
On Saturday nights Perkins would listen to the
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry on his
father's radio. Roy Acuff's broadcasts inspired him to ask his parents
for a guitar. Since they could not afford one, his father made one
from a cigar box and a broomstick. Finally, a neighbor in hard times
offered to sell his dented and scratched
Gene Autry model guitar with
worn-out strings. Buck Perkins bought it for his son for a couple of
Perkins taught himself parts of Acuff's "Great Speckled Bird" and "The
Wabash Cannonball", having heard them played on the Opry. He also
cited Bill Monroe's fast playing and vocals as an early influence.
Perkins learned more about the guitar from John Westbrook, an
African-American field worker in his sixties. "Uncle John", as Perkins
called him, played blues and gospel music on an old acoustic guitar.
Westbrook advised Perkins to "Get down close to it. You can feel it
travel down the strangs, come through your head and down to your soul
where you live. You can feel it. Let it vib-a-rate." Perkins could not
afford new strings, and when they broke he had to retie them. The
knots cut his fingers when he would slide to another note, so he began
bending the notes, stumbling onto a type of blue note.
Perkins was recruited to be a member of the Lake County Fourth Grade
Marching Band. Since his family was too poor to afford them, Lee
McCutcheon, the woman in charge of the band, gave him a new white
shirt, cotton pants, a white band cap and a red cape.
In January 1947, the Perkins family moved from Lake County, Tennessee,
to Madison County, Tennessee. A new radio that ran on house current
rather than a battery and the closeness to
Memphis exposed Perkins to
a greater variety of music. At age fourteen, using the I-IV-V
chord progression common in country music of the day, he wrote a
song that came to be known around Jackson as "Let Me Take You to the
Movie, Magg" (the song later persuaded
Sam Phillips to sign
Perkins to his
Sun Records label).
Beginnings as a performer
Perkins and his brother Jay had their first paying job (in tips) as
entertainers at the Cotton Boll tavern on Highway 45, twelve miles
south of Jackson, starting on Wednesday nights during late 1946.
Perkins was 14 years old. One of the songs they played was an up-tempo
country blues shuffle version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of
Kentucky". Free drinks were one of the perks of playing in a tavern,
and Perkins drank four beers that first night. Within a month Carl and
Jay began playing Friday and Saturday nights at the Sand Ditch tavern,
near the western boundary of Jackson. Both places were the scene of
occasional fights, and both of the Perkins brothers gained a
reputation as fighters.
During the next couple of years the Perkins brothers began playing
other taverns around Bemis and Jackson, including El Rancho, the
Roadside Inn, and the Hilltop, as they became better known. Carl
persuaded his brother Clayton to play the upright bass to complete the
sound of the band.
Perkins began performing regularly on WTJS in Jackson during the late
1940s as a sometime member of the Tennessee Ramblers. He also appeared
on Hayloft Frolic, on which he performed two songs, sometimes
including "Talking Blues" as done by Robert Lunn on the Grand Ole
Opry. Perkins and then his brothers began appearing on The Early
Morning Farm and Home Hour. Positive listener response resulted in a
15-minute segment sponsored by Mother's Best Flour. By the end of the
1940s, the Perkins Brothers were the best-known band in the Jackson
Perkins had day jobs during most of these early years, picking cotton
and later working at Day's Dairy in Malesus, at a mattress factory and
in a battery plant. He worked as a pan greaser for the Colonial Baking
Company in 1951 and 1952.
In January 1953, Perkins married Valda Crider, whom he had known for a
number of years. When his job at the bakery was reduced to part-time,
Valda, who had her own job, encouraged Perkins to begin working the
taverns full-time. He began playing six nights a week. Later the same
year he added W.S. "Fluke" Holland to the band as a drummer. Halder
had no previous experience as a musician but had a good sense of
Malcolm Yelvington, who remembered the Perkins Brothers when they
played in Covington, Tennessee, in 1953, noted that Carl had an
unusual blues-like style all his own. By 1955 Perkins had made
tapes of his material with a borrowed tape recorder, and he sent them
to companies such as Columbia and RCA, with addresses like "Columbia
Records, New York City". "I had sent tapes to RCA and Columbia and had
never heard a thing from 'em."
In July 1954, Perkins and his wife heard a new release of "Blue Moon
of Kentucky" by Elvis Presley,
Scotty Moore and
Bill Black on the
radio. As the song faded out, Perkins said, "There's a man in
Memphis who understands what we're doing. I need to go see him."
According to another telling of the story, it was Valda who told him
that he should go to Memphis. Later, Presley told Perkins that he
had traveled to Jackson and seen Perkins and his group playing at El
Years later the musician
Gene Vincent told an interviewer that, rather
than "Blue Moon of Kentucky" being a "new sound", "a lot of people
were doing it before that, especially Carl Perkins."
Perkins successfully auditioned for
Sam Phillips at
Sun Records in
early October 1954. "Movie Magg" and "Turn Around" were released on
the Phillips-owned Flip label (151) on March 19, 1955. "Turn
Around" became a regional success. With the song getting airplay
across the South and Southwest, Perkins was booked to appear along
Elvis Presley at theaters in Marianna and West Memphis, Arkansas.
Commenting on the audience reaction to both Presley and himself,
Perkins said, "When I'd jump around they'd scream some, but they were
gettin' ready for him. It was like TNT, man, it just exploded. All of
a sudden the world was wrapped up in rock."
Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two were the next musicians to be added
to the performances by Sun musicians. During the summer of 1955 there
were junkets to Little Rock and
Forrest City, Arkansas
Forrest City, Arkansas and to Corinth
and Tupelo, Mississippi. Again performing at El Rancho, the Perkins
brothers were involved in an automobile accident in Woodside,
Delaware. A friend, who had been driving, was pinned by the steering
wheel. Perkins managed to drag him from the car, which had begun
burning. Clayton had been thrown from the car but was not injured
Another Perkins song, "Gone Gone Gone", released by Sun in
October 1955, was also a regional success. It was a "bounce blues
in flavorsome combined country and r.&b. idioms". It was
backed by the more traditional "Let the Jukebox Keep On Playing",
complete with fiddle, "Western boogie" bass line, steel guitar and
Commenting on Perkins's playing,
Sam Phillips has been quoted as
saying, "I knew that Carl could rock and in fact he told me right from
the start that he had been playing that music before Elvis came out on
record ... I wanted to see whether this was someone who could
revolutionize the country end of the business."
Also 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. That
night, Perkins performed the song on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee, his
television debut (Presley performed it for the second time that same
night on CBS-TV's Stage Show; he'd first sung it on the program on
In the United Kingdom, the song became a Top Ten hit, reaching number
10 on the British charts. It was the first record by a Sun artist to
sell a million copies. The B side, "Honey Don't", was covered by the
Wanda Jackson and (in the 1970s) T. Rex.
John Lennon sang
lead on the song when the Beatles performed it, before it was given to
Ringo Starr to sing. Lennon also performed the song on the Lost Lennon
After playing a show in Norfolk, Virginia, on March 21, 1956, the
Perkins Brothers Band headed to
New York City
New York City for a March 24
appearance on NBC-TV's
Perry Como Show. 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.
On March 23, Bill Black,
Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, the members of
Elvis's band, visited Perkins on their way to New York to appear with
Presley the next day. Fontana recalled Perkins saying, "Of all the
people, I looked up and there you guys are. You looked like a bunch of
angels coming to see me." Black told him, "Hey man, Elvis sends
his love", and lit a cigarette for him, even though the patient in the
next bed was in an oxygen tent. A week later, Perkins was given a
telegram from Presley (which had arrived on March 23), wishing him a
Sam Philips had planned to surprise Perkins with a gold record on The
Perry Como Show. "Blue Suede Shoes" had sold more than 500,000 copies
by March 22. Now, while Perkins recuperated from his injuries,
"Blue Suede Shoes" reached number 1 on regional pop, R&B, and
country charts. It also reached number 2 on the Billboard pop and
country charts. Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" was number one on
the pop and country charts at that time, but "Blue Suede Shoes" did
better than "Heartbreak" on the R&B charts. By mid-April, more
than one million copies of "Blue Suede Shoes" had been sold.
On April 3, while still recuperating in Jackson, Perkins watched
Presley perform "Blue Suede Shoes" on his first appearance on The
Milton Berle Show, which was his third performance of the song on
national television. He also made references to it twice
during an appearance on The Steve Allen Show. Although his version
became more famous than Perkins's, it reached only as high as number
20 on the Billboard pop chart.
Return to recording and touring
The rockabilly song "Dixie Fried" performed by Carl Perkins
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Perkins returned to live performances on April 21, 1956, beginning
with an appearance in Beaumont, Texas, with the "Big D Jamboree"
tour. Before he resumed touring,
Sam Phillips arranged a recording
session at Sun, with Ed Cisco filling in for the still-recuperating
Jay. By mid-April, "Dixie Fried", "Put Your Cat Clothes On", "Right
String, Wrong Yo-Yo", "You Can't Make Love to Somebody", "Everybody's
Trying to Be My Baby", and "That Don't Move Me" had been recorded.
Carl Perkins (2nd from left) performing "Glad All Over" with (left to
right) Clayton Perkins, W.S. "Fluke" Holland, and Jay Perkins in the
Beginning early that summer, Perkins was paid $1,000 to play just two
songs a night on the extended tour of "Top Stars of '56". Other
performers on the tour were
Chuck Berry and Frankie Lymon and the
Teenagers. When Perkins and the group entered the stage in Columbia,
South Carolina, he was appalled to see a teenager with a bleeding chin
pressed against the stage by the crowd. During the first guitar
intermission of "Honey Don't" they were waved offstage and into a
vacant dressing room behind a double line of police officers. Perkins
was quoted as saying, "It was dangerous. Lot of kids got hurt. There
was a lot of rioting going on, just crazy, man! The music drove 'em
insane." Appalled by what he had seen and experienced, Perkins left
the tour. Appearing with
Gene Vincent and
Lillian Briggs in a
"rock 'n' roll show", he helped pull 39,872 people to the Reading Fair
in Pennsylvania on a Tuesday night in late September. A full
grandstand and one thousand people stood in a heavy rain to hear
Perkins and Briggs at the Brockton Fair in Massachusetts.
Sun issued more Perkins songs in 1956: "Boppin' the Blues"/"All Mama's
Children" (Sun 243), the B side co-written with Johnny Cash, and
"Dixie Fried"/"I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry" (Sun 249). "Matchbox"/"Your
True Love" (Sun 261) came out in February 1957. "Boppin' the
Blues" reached number 47 on the Cashbox pop singles chart, number 9 on
the Billboard country and western chart, and number 70 on the
Billboard Top 100 chart.
"Matchbox" is considered a rockabilly classic. The day it was
Elvis Presley visited the studio. Perkins, Presley, Jerry
Lee Lewis and
Johnny Cash (who left early) spent more than an hour
singing gospel, country and rhythm-and-blues songs while a tape
rolled. The performers at this casual session were called the
Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet by a local newspaper the next day. These
recordings were released on CD in 1990.
On February 2, 1957, Perkins again appeared on Ozark Jubilee, singing
"Matchbox" and "Blue Suede Shoes". He also made at least two
Town Hall Party in Compton, California, in 1957,
singing both songs. Those performances were included in the Western
Ranch Dance Party series filmed and distributed by Screen Gems.
He released "That's Right", co-written with Johnny Cash, backed with
the ballad "Forever Yours", as Sun single 274 in August 1957. Neither
side made it onto the charts.
The 1957 film Jamboree included a Perkins performance of "Glad All
Over" (not to be confused with the Dave Clark Five song of the same
name), which ran 1:55. "Glad All Over", written by Aaron Schroeder,
Sid Tepper, and Roy C. Bennett, was released by Sun in January
Life after Sun
In 1958, Perkins moved to Columbia Records, for which he recorded
"Jive After Five", "Rockin' Record Hop", "Levi Jacket (And a Long Tail
Shirt)", "Pop, Let Me Have the Car", "Pink Pedal Pushers", "Any Way
the Wind Blows", "Hambone", "Pointed Toe Shoes", "Sister Twister",
"L-O-V-E-V-I-L-L-E" and other songs.
In 1959, he wrote the country-and-western song "The Ballad of Boot
Hill" for Johnny Cash, who recorded it on an EP for Columbia Records.
In the same year, Perkins was cast in a Filipino movie produced by
People's Pictures, Hawaiian Boy, in which he sang "Blue Suede
He performed often at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas in 1962
and 1963. During this time he toured nine Midwestern states and made a
tour in Germany.
In May 1964, Perkins toured Britain with Chuck Berry. Perkins had
been reluctant to undertake the tour, convinced that as forgotten as
he was in America, he would be even more obscure in the U.K., and he
did not want to be humiliated by drawing meager audiences. Berry
assured him that they had remained much more popular in Britain since
the 1950s than they had in the United States and that there would be
large crowds of fans at every show.
The Animals backed the two
performers. On the last night of the tour, Perkins attended a party
where he sat on the floor sharing stories, playing guitar, and singing
songs while surrounded by the Beatles.
Ringo Starr asked if he could
record "Honey Don't". Perkins answered, "Man, go ahead, have at
The Beatles went on to record covers of "Matchbox", "Honey
Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (recorded by Perkins,
adapted from a song originally recorded by
Rex Griffin in 1936, with
new music by Perkins; a song with the same title was recorded by Roy
Newman in 1938).
The Beatles recorded two versions of "Glad All Over"
in 1963. Another tour to Germany followed in the autumn.
He released "Big Bad Blues" backed with "Lonely Heart" as a single on
Brunswick Records with the Nashville Teens in June 1964.
While on tour with the
Johnny Cash troupe in 1968, Perkins went on a
four-day drinking binge. With the urging of Cash, he opened a show in
San Diego, California, by playing four songs after seeing "four or
five of me in the mirror" and while being able to see "nothin' but a
blur". After drinking yet another pint of whiskey, he passed out on
the tour bus. By morning he started hallucinating "big spiders, and
dinosaurs, huge, and they were gonna step on me". The bus was parked
on a beach at the ocean. He was tempted by yet another pint of whiskey
that he had hidden. He took the bottle with him onto the beach and
fell on his knees and said, "Lord, ... I'm gonna throw this
bottle. I'm gonna show You that I believe in you. I sailed it into the
Pacific ... I got up, I knew I had done the right thing." Perkins
and Cash, who had his own problems with drugs, then gave each other
support to stay sober.
In 1968, Cash recorded the Perkins-written "Daddy Sang Bass" (which
incorporates parts of the American standard "Will the Circle Be
Unbroken") and scored No. 1 on the country music charts for six weeks.
Glen Campbell also covered the song, as did the Statler Brothers and
Carl Story. "Daddy Sang Bass" was a
Country Music Association
Country Music Association nominee
for Song of the Year. Perkins also played lead guitar on Cash's single
"A Boy Named Sue", recorded live at
San Quentin prison, which went to
No. 1 for five weeks on the country chart and No. 2 on the pop chart
(the performance was also filmed by
Granada Television for broadcast).
Perkins spent a decade in Cash's touring revue, often as an opening
act for Cash (as at the Folsom and
San Quentin prison concerts, at
which he was recorded singing "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Matchbox" before
Cash took the stage; these performances were not released until the
2000s). He also appeared on the television seriesThe
Johnny Cash Show.
He played "Matchbox" with Cash and Derek and the Dominos. Cash also
featured Perkins in rehearsal jamming with
José Feliciano and Merle
On the television program
Kraft Music Hall
Kraft Music Hall on April 16, 1969, hosted
by Cash, Perkins performed his song "Restless".
Bob Dylan wrote "Champaign, Illinois" in 1969. Dylan was
recording in Nashville from February 12 to February 21 for his album
Nashville Skyline. He met Perkins when he appeared on The Johnny Cash
Show on June 7. Dylan had written one verse of the song but was
stuck. Perkins worked out a loping rhythm and improvised a
verse-ending lyric, and Dylan said to him, "Your song. Take it. Finish
it." The co-authored song was included on Perkins's 1969 album On
Perkins was also united in 1969 by Columbia's Murray Krugman with a
rockabilly group based in New York's Hudson Valley, the New Rhythm and
Blues Quartet. Perkins and
NRBQ recorded Boppin' the Blues, which
featured the group backing him on songs including his staples "Turn
Around" and "Boppin' the Blues" and included songs recorded separately
by Perkins and NRBQ. One of his TV appearances with Cash was on
the popular country series Hee Haw, on February 16, 1974.
Tommy Cash (brother of Johnny Cash) had a Top Ten country gospel hit
in 1970 with a recording of the song "Rise and Shine", written by
Perkins. It reached number 9 on the Billboard country chart and number
8 on the Canadian country chart.
Arlene Harden had a
Top 40 country
hit in 1971 with the Perkins composition "True Love Is Greater Than
Friendship", from the film
Little Fauss and Big Halsy
Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1971), which
reached number 22 on the Billboard country chart and number 33 on the
Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for
Al Martino that same year.
After a long legal struggle with
Sam Phillips over royalties, Perkins
gained ownership of his songs in the 1970s.
In 1981 Perkins recorded the song "Get It" with Paul McCartney,
providing vocals and playing guitar with the former Beatle. This
recording was included on the chart-topping album Tug of War, released
in 1982. This track was also the B-side of the title track single
in a slightly edited form. One source states that Perkins "wrote the
song with Paul McCartney". The song ends with a fade-out of
Perkins's impromptu laughter.
The rockabilly revival of the 1980s helped bring Perkins back into the
limelight. During 1985, he re-recorded "Blue Suede Shoes" with Lee
Slim Jim Phantom
Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats, as part of the
soundtrack for the film Porky's Revenge.
In October 1985, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Dave Edmunds, Lee
Rosanne Cash and
Ringo Starr appeared with him on stage for a
television special, Blue Suede Shoes: A
Rockabilly Session, which was
taped live at the
Limehouse Studios in London. The show was shown on
Channel 4 on January 1, 1986. Perkins performed 16 songs, with two
encores, in an extraordinary performance. He and his friends ended the
session by singing his most famous song, 30 years after its writing,
which brought Perkins to tears. The concert special was a highlight of
his later career and has been praised by fans for the spirited
performances delivered by Perkins and his guests. The concert was
released for DVD by Snapper Music in 2006.
Perkins was inducted into the
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in
1985. Wider recognition of his contribution to music came with his
induction into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. "Blue Suede
Shoes" was chosen as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's “500
Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. The song also received a Grammy
Hall of Fame Award. Perkins was inducted into the
Rockabilly Hall of
Fame in recognition of his pioneering contribution to the genre.
Perkins's only notable film performance as an actor was in John
Landis's 1985 film Into the Night, a cameo-laden film that includes a
scene in which characters played by Perkins and
David Bowie die at
each other's hand.
Perkins returned to the
Sun Studio in
Memphis in 1986, joining Cash,
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis and
Roy Orbison on the album Class of '55. The record
was a tribute to their early years at Sun and, specifically, the
Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet jam session involving Perkins, Presley, Cash,
and Lewis in 1956.
In 1989, Perkins co-wrote and played guitar on the Judds' number 1
country hit, "Let Me Tell You About Love". Also in that year, he
signed a record deal with Platinum Records for the album Friends,
Family, and Legends, featuring performances by Chet Atkins, Travis
Tritt, Steve Wariner,
Joan Jett and Charlie Daniels, along with Paul
Shaffer and Will Lee. During the production of this album, Perkins
developed throat cancer.
He again returned to
Sun Studio to record with Scotty Moore, Presley's
first guitar player, for the album 706 ReUNION, released by Belle
Meade Records, which also featured D.J. Fontana, Marcus Van Storey and
the Jorddanaires. In 1993, Perkins performed with the Kentucky
Headhunters in a music video remake of his song "Dixie Fried", filmed
in Glasgow, Kentucky, In 1994, he teamed up with
Duane Eddy and the
Mavericks to contribute "Matchbox" to the
AIDS benefit album Red Hot +
Country, produced by the Red Hot Organization.
His last album, Go Cat Go!, released by the independent label Dinosaur
Records in 1996, features Perkins singing duets with Bono, Johnny
Cash, John Fogerty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson,
Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and Ringo Starr.
His last major concert performance was the Music for Montserrat
all-star charity concert at London's
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall on September
Perkins died four months later, on January 19, 1998, at the age of 65,
at Jackson-Madison County Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee, from throat
cancer. He had also suffered several minor strokes the previous month.
Among the mourners at his funeral at
Lambuth University were George
Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wynonna Judd, Garth Brooks, Nashville agent
Jim Dallas Crouch,
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Perkins was
interred at Ridgecrest Cemetery in Jackson.
A strong advocate for the prevention of child abuse, Perkins worked
with the Jackson Exchange Club to establish the first center for the
prevention of child abuse in Tennessee and the fourth in the nation.
Proceeds from a concert planned by Perkins were combined with a grant
from the National Exchange Club to establish the Prevention of Child
Abuse in October 1981. For years its annual Circle of Hope Telethon
generated one quarter of the center's annual operating budget.
Perkins had one daughter, Debbie, and three sons, Stan, Greg, and
Stan, his first-born son, is also a recording artist. In 2010, he
joined forces with
Jerry Naylor to record a duet tribute, "To Carl:
Let it Vibrate". Stan has been inducted into the
Rockabilly Hall of
Perkins' widow, Valda deVere Perkins, died on November 15, 2005, in
As a guitarist Perkins used finger picking, imitations of the pedal
steel guitar, right-handed damping (muffling strings near the bridge
with the palm), arpeggios, advantageous use of open strings, single
and double string bending (pushing strings across the neck to raise
their pitch), chromaticism (using notes outside of the scale), country
and blues licks, and tritone and other tonality clashing licks (short
phrases that include notes from other keys and move in logical, often
symmetric patterns). A rich vocabulary of chords including sixth
and thirteenth chords, ninth and add nine chords, and suspensions,
show up in rhythm parts and solos. Free use of syncopations, chord
anticipations (arriving at a chord change before the other players,
often by an eighth-note) and crosspicking (repeating a three
eighth-note pattern so that an accent falls variously on the upbeat or
downbeat) are also in his bag of tricks.
Historic marker commemorating Perkins alongside other famous peers
Continuation of the historic placard in tribute to Perkins
Perkins wrote his autobiography, Go, Cat, Go, published in 1996, in
collaboration with music writer David McGee in 1996. Plans for a
biographical film were announced by Santa Monica-based production
company Fastlane Entertainment. was slated for release in
Rolling Stone ranked Perkins number 99 on its list of the 100
Greatest Artists of All Time.
His version of "Blue Suede Shoes" was included by the National
Recording Preservation Board in the National Recording Registry of the
Library of Congress
Library of Congress in 2006.
The Perkins family still owns his songs, the rights to which are
administered MPL Communications, a company founded by Paul
Drive-By Truckers, on their album The Dirty South, recorded a song
about him, "Carl Perkins' Cadillac". The
Carl Perkins Arena in
Jackson, Tennessee is named in his honor.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers covered "Dixie Fried" on their
1985 album Maverick. The
Kentucky Headhunters also covered the song,
as did Keith de Groot on his 1968 album No Introduction Necessary,
Jimmy Page on lead guitar and John Paul Jones on bass.
Ricky Nelson covered Perkins's "Boppin' the Blues" and "Your True
Love" on his 1957 debut album, Ricky.
Perkins was portrayed by Johnny Saint Holiday in the 2005 Johnny Cash
biopic Walk the Line.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August
The following recording by
Carl Perkins was inducted into the Grammy
Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to
honor recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have
"qualitative or historical significance".
Grammy Hall of Fame Awards
"Blue Suede Shoes"
Rock and Roll (single)
Dance Album (1957)
Whole Lotta Shakin' (1958)
On Top (1969)
My Kind of Country (1973)
Ol' Blue Suede's Back (1978)
Country Soul (1979)
Blue Suede Shoes
Blue Suede Shoes (1984)
Born to Rock (1989)
Boppin' the Blues
Boppin' the Blues (1970, with NRBQ)
The Survivors (1982, with Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash)
Class of '55
Class of '55 (1986, with Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny
Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet (1990, with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis,
and Johnny Cash)
706 Re-Union (1990, with Scotty Moore)
Carl Perkins & Sons (1993, with his sons Greg and Stan)
Go Cat Go! (1996, with various guest stars)
Carl Perkins Show (1976)
Live at Austin City Limits (1981)
The Silver Eagle Cross Country:
Carl Perkins Live (1997)
Blue Suede Shoes: A
Rockabilly Session (2006)
Cane Creek Glory Church (1979)
Country Boy Dreams (1967)
Carl Perkins' Greatest Hits (1969, re-recordings)
Original Golden Hits (1969)
Guitar Man (1981)
Carl Perkins (1982)
Boppin' the New Bleus (1982)
Born to Boogie (1982)
The Heart and Soul of
Carl Perkins (1983)
Carl Perkins (1985)
Original Sun Greatest Hits (1986)
Up Through the Years 1954–57 (1986)
Friends, Family & Legends (1992)
Judds: Greatest Hits Volume II (1991)
Philip Claypool: Perfect World (1999)
Carl Perkins' Greatest Hits (re-recordings)
Original Golden Hits
My Kind of Country
The Survivors Live
Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis)
Class of '55
(with Jerry Lee Lewis,
Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash)
Peak chart positions
"Blue Suede Shoes"
Dance Album of ... Carl Perkins
"Boppin' the Blues"
Original Golden Hits
"I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry"
Blue Suede Shoes
"Your True Love"
Dance Album of ... Carl Perkins
"Pink Pedal Pushers"
The King of Rock
"Pointed Toe Shoes"
"Country Boy's Dream"
Country Boy's Dream
"Shine, Shine, Shine"
Carl Perkins' Greatest Hits
"Me Without You"
The Man Behind Johnny Cash
"High on Love"
"(Let's Get) Dixiefried" (1973 version)
My Kind of Country
"Birth of Rock and Roll"
Class of '55
"Class of '55"
Born to Rock
^ a b c Pareles.
^ a b Naylor, p. 118.
^ "Rock 'n Roll Legend Carl Perkins' Much Anticipated Story to Come to
the Big Screen". August 16, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
^  Archived February 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b c d
Carl Perkins interviewed on the
Pop Chronicles (1969)
^ Perkins, pp. 8–9.
^ Perkins, pp. 11–12.
^ Perkins, pp. 13–14.
^ Perkins, p. 21.
^ Perkins, pp. 30, 55.
^  Archived April 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Perkins, pp. 30, 68.
^ Perkins, pp. 36–41.
^ Perkins, p. 48.
^ Perkins, pp. 48–49.
^ Perkins, pp. 32, 70–71.
^ "The Legend Carl Perkins". Rockabillytennessee.com. January 19,
1998. Archived from the original on November 17, 2011. Retrieved
November 25, 2011.
^ Perkins, pp. 70–71.
^ Perkins, p. 77.
^ a b "The Top Beats the Bottom:
Carl Perkins and his Music". The
Atlantic. December 1970. p. 100.
^ [dead link]
^ Perkins, pp. 79–90.
Rockabilly Legends. Naler. p. 121.
^ VanHecke, Susan (2000). Race with the Devil. St. Martin's Press. p.
219. ISBN 0-312-26222-1.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
Retrieved May 22, 2014.
^ Perkins, pp. 106–108.
^ Perkins, pp. 122–124.
^ [dead link]
^ "MP3 recording" (MP3). Rcs-discography.com. Retrieved
^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
Retrieved May 22, 2014.
^ Billboard, October 22, 1955. Reviews of New C&W Records. p. 44.
^ "MP3 recording" (MP3). Rcs-discography.com. Retrieved
^ Escott, Colin; Hawkins, Martin. Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records
and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll. Google eBook. Retrieved 10.11.2011.
^ Perrkins, Carl; McGee, David (1996). Go, Cat, Go! Hyperion Press. p.
129. ISBN 0-7868-6073-1
^ a b Miller, James (1999). Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock
and Roll, 1947–1977. Simon & Schuster. pp. 124–25.
^ Naylor, p. 135.
^ a b Naylor, p. 137.
^ Perkins, pp. 178, 180.
^ Burke, Ken; Griffin, Dan (2006). The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of
Elvis Presley's Band. Chicago Review Press. p. 88.
^ Perkins, pp. 182, 184.
^ Perkins, p. 173.
^ Perkins, p. 187.
^ Perkins, p. 184.
^ "Elvis's Television Appearances 1956–1973". Kki.pl. Archived from
the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ "Top 20 Billboard Singles: Billboard Chart Statistics: All About
Elvis". Elvis.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011.
^ Perkins, p. 191.
^ Perkins, p. 198.
^ Perkins, pp. 188, 210, 212.
^ Billboard September 29, 1956. pages 73, 78.
^  Archived February 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Town Hall Party". hillbilly-music.com. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ [dead link]
^  Archived July 17, 2012, at Archive.is
^ "Tour Information 1964". Chuckberry.de. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ Naylor, p. 142.
The Beatles "Glad All Over". "
The Beatles Lyrics - Glad All Over".
Oldielyrics.com. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
Carl Perkins - Big Bad Blues / Lonely Heart - Brunswick - UK -
05909". 45cat. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
^ Perkins, pp. 309–310.
^ "Restless - Carl Perkins". Rockabillyeurope.com. Retrieved
^ "Kraft Music Hall: Johnny Cash ... On The Road Episode
Summary". TV.com. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
Johnny Cash Show Season 2 Episode Guide". TV.com. Retrieved
^ "RAB Hall of Fame: Carl Perkins".
Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Retrieved
^ "On Top: Carl Perkins". AOL Music. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
^ Boppin' the Blues. Columbia CS9981 (1969).
^ a b Mike Kovacich (April 17, 2003). "MACCA-News: McCartney to
Administer Perkins's Music". Macca-central.com. Retrieved
^ "Tug Of War". Jpgr.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ Naylor, p. 145.
Carl Perkins & Friends. Released by Graham Nolder/Snapper
Music. 2006. Cat:SDVD514
^ "Into the Night (1985): Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved
^ "Carl Perkins/Various Artists: Go Cat Go!". Theband.hiof.no.
^ [dead link]
^ Tennessee Historial Commission
^ "Pentatonics" (PDF). Paul-clark.com. Archived from the original
(PDF) on January 16, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
^ Perkins, p. 78.
Carl Perkins Story". Billboardpublicitywire.com. Archived from
the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ "Rock 'N Roll Legend Carl Perkins's Much Anticipated Story To Come
To The Big Screen". Billboard Publicity Wire. Archived from the
original on 2008-04-13.
^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty".
Rolling Stone (946).
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^ "George Thorogood & The Destroyers Albums". Softshoe-slim.com.
^ "Grammy Hall Of Fame". Grammy.org. Archived from the original on
January 22, 2011. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
Guterman, Jimmy. (1998.) "Carl Perkins". The Encyclopedia of Country
Music. Paul Kingsbury, ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Naylor, Jerry; Halliday, Steve. The
Rockabilly Legends: They Called It
Rockabilly Long Before They Called It Rock and Roll. Milwaukee, Wisc.:
Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-4234-2042-2. OCLC 71812792.
Pareles, Jon (January 20, 1998). "
Carl Perkins Dies at 65; Rockabilly
Pioneer Wrote 'Blue Suede Shoes'". New York Times. p. B12.
Retrieved December 4, 2009.
Perkins, Carl; McGee, David (1996). Go, Cat, Go!. New York: Hyperion
Press. ISBN 0-7868-6073-1. OCLC 32895064. .
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carl Perkins.
Carl Perkins Story on IMDb
Carl Perkins biography
Perkins' page at the
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Carl Perkins bio at Rolling Stone
Carl Perkins Biography at The History of Rock
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