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The Online Roots of Rock

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Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
1956


Carl Perkins
April 9, 1932 – January 19, 1998


King of Rockabilly

Carl Perkins - The Perkins Brothers Band Carl Perkins with Sam Phillips and Cadillac Carl Perkins promo photo
LEFT: The Perkins Brothers Band was playing its brand of country since 1947. CENTER: Carl signed with Sun Records in 1954 and gave the label its first million-seller with his song Blue Suede Shoes — an accomplishment that rewarded him with a Cadillac from delighted Sam Phillips. RIGHT: Carl Perkins stayed true to his roots and is acknowledged as the King of Rockabilly. The Rockabilly Hall of Fame is located in Jackson, Tennessee – Carl's hometown.

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Carl Lee Perkins
A . P R I M E R
Carl Perkins was born into a dirt-poor sharecropper's family on April 9, 1932 near Tiptonville, Tennessee. Being the only white family on the plantation, young Carl was nurtured on the Blues and Gospel as well as hillbilly music.
He learned guitar from a black sharecropper called Uncle John.1 At the age of 13 he entered a talent contest and sang a song he had written called Movie Magg, He won the contest and was encouraged to formed a group – the Perkins Brothers Band – with his brothers Jay and Clayton.
As his family moved about during the Depression years, Carl continued writing music, absorbing the influences around him.
From 1947 through 1952 the Perkins Brothers Band played honky tonks and performed on WDXT Radio in Jackson, Tennessee.
In 1953 Carl married Valda Crider and moved to a government housing project to start raising a family.
Upon hearing upstart Elvis Presley enjoying some success with the kind of hybrid music Carl and his brothers had been playing for years, Perkins headed to Memphis and signed with Sam Phillips of Sun Records in 1954. While touring the mid-South opening for Elvis in 1955 he wrote Blue Suede Shoes and recorded it in December.of that year.
Blue Suede Shoes was released on January 1, 1956 with little fanfare but, with Carl's regular appearances on Big D Jamboree tours, the song built up momentum. Carl was soon booked on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como television shows in March.
Enroute to the Perry Como Show in New York, Carl and his brothers were involved in a tragic car accident involving one death. Carl suffered serious injuries2 and missed his date with destiny.
While he was recuperating, Blue Suede Shoes became Sun Records' first million-seller and Carl became the first Country artist to score on the R&B charts, ultimately reaching the number two spot. Although Elvis covered Blue Suede Shoes, Carl's hard-edged version would soon be acknowledged as Rockabilly's signature song.
But his success on the pop charts was a short-lived. Carl was pure country and unable to evolve like his Sun labelmates Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. While their careers soared, he was achieving only minor hits on various labels when not serving as a sideman for others.
Feeling he had nothing to lose, Perkins agreed to a British tour in 1964 with Chuck Berry. He soon learned, however, that British fans revered him as he looked around and saw, probably through tears, banners that read "Welcome King of Rock 'n' Roll!"
Carl Perkins may have missed his date with destiny, but his music defined Rockabilly and helped shape the destiny of others — most notably Elvis and the Beatles.3
Carl Perkins was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

1
John Westbrook, who, according to Perkins, played on a guitar with missing strings and had to "bend" strings to reach certain notes. Carl saved up and bought the instrument for three dollars.
2 Carl suffered a cracked skull and a fractured shoulder. Brother Jay suffered a broken neck and several internal injuries resulting in his death from complications in 1958.
3
As a tribute to their mentor, the Beatles recorded 5 Carl Perkins songs – more than from any artist other than Lennon or McCartney.

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The Online Roots of Rock


"Carl Perkins was the original hillbilly cat."
ELVIS PRESLEY

"If there were no Carl Perkins,
there would be no Beatles."
PAUL McCARTNEY


.Featured Sites .

Carl Perkins - Rockabilly Hall of Fame webpage
Carl Perkins - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame webpage
Carl Perkins - History of Rock webpage
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Rock + Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
bio / photos

Other Recommended Sites
The Blue Suede Shoes Story
the story behind Rockabilly's signature song

Related Site


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Go Cat Go!
Great Rockabilly Guitar Solos
Go Cat Go!
Good Rockin'
Tonight
Go Cat Go - The Life and Times of Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins - Great Rockabilly Guitar Solos
Carl Perkins - Go Cat Go: Rockabilly Music and Its Makers
Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll
The Life and Times of Carl Perkins
by Carl Perkins, David McGee
includes Carl's work
pub by Hal Leonard
Rockabilly Music and its Makers
by Craig Morrison
Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll
by Colin Escott
with Martin Hawkins


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Carl Perkins
The Essential Sun Collection
Carl Perkins
Original Sun Greatest Hits
Carl Perkins
Blue Suede Shoes
Carl Perkins - The Essential Sun Collection
Carl Perkins - Original Sun Greatest Hits
Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
Recall Records
2 CDs / 36 tracks
1999
Rhino Records
1 CD / 16 tracks
1990
Collectables
1 CD / 23 tracks
1999


Carl Perkins
The Complete Sun Singles
Carl Perkins
The Columbia Recordings
Carl Perkins
The Dollie Masters
Carl Perkins - The Essential Sun Collection
Carl Perkins - Original Sun Greatest Hits
Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
Varese Saraband
1 CD / 18 tracks
2000/2012
Sony
1 CD / 18 tracks
1992
Bear Family
1 CD / 30 tracks
1999


The Classic
Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins - Original Sun Greatest Hits
Bear Family
5 CDs / 136 tracks
2002


.MP3 Downloads .
Click here to sample or download
Carl Perkins songs and albums directly
from amazon.com



Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Cal Perkins
and Friends
Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins:
My Old Friend
Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins and Friends
Carl Perkins - A Rock 'n' Roll Legend
Carl Perkins - My Old Friend with Paul McCartney
Carl Perkins - This Country's Rockin'
A Rockabilly Session
1985
info / order online
VHS | DVD
Rock 'n' Roll Legend
2001
info / order online
VHS | DVD
only 30 minutes
With Paul McCartney
1998
info / order online
VHS | DVD
This Country's Rockin'
1999
info / order online
VHS | DVD


Jamboree
Red Hot + Country
Good Rockin' Tonight
Sam Phillips
Carl Perkins - Jamboree
Carl Perkins - Red Hot + Country
Good Rockin' Tonight - The Legacy of Sun Records
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Carl performs "Glad All Over"
1957
info / order online
VHS | DVD
Carl performs "Matchbox" with the Mavericks and Duane Eddy
1994
info / order online
VHS | DVD
The Legacy of Sun Records
1990
info / order online
VHS | DVD
The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
A&E Biography
2000
info / order online
VHS | DVD


.YouTube Videos .
Click here to enjoy some Carl Perkins videos
posted on YouTube


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Newspaper clipping
March 22, 1956
.


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100 Years of Popular Music in America
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