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Carl Perkins: One of the Grandfathers of Rock and Roll

This bio says that Carl Perkins gave a lot of credit to Bill Monroe as a grandfather of rockabilly. That’s an example of the beauty of music: The direct line from Monroe– with plenty of contributions from elsewhere, of course — through Perkins and others, to rock-and-roll.

Rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins lent a helping hand when the two currents that defined Southern music at mid-century – rhythm & blues and country & western – came together as rock and roll. He was a native Tennessean who’d grown up in a sharecropping family near Tiptonville, a farming community in Lake County, north of Memphis. Perkins picked cotton in the fields and learned how to play guitar from a black field hand named John Westbrook. He began performing in the Forties with the Perkins Brothers Band, which included siblings Jay and Clayton. Carl was heavily influenced by bluegrass legend Bill Monroe – “Some of those old songs [of his] are so close to rockabilly it’s scary,” he said – and was right on track with Presley in the synthesis of rock and roll from homegrown elements.  (Continue Reading…)

Here is the beginning of Perkins’ bio from AllMusic:

While some ill-informed revisionist writers of rock history would like to dismiss Carl Perkins as a rockabilly artist who became a one hit wonder at the dawn of rock & roll’s early years, a deeper look at his music and career reveals much more. A quick look at his songwriting portfolio shows that he has composed “Daddy Sang Bass” for Johnny Cash, “I Was So Wrong” for Patsy Cline, and “Let Me Tell You About Love” for the Judds, big hits and classics all. His influence as the quintessential rockabilly artist has played a big part in the development of every generation of rocker to come down the pike since, from the Beatles’ George Harrison to the Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer to a myriad of others in the country field as well. His guitar style is the other twin peak — along with that of Elvis’ lead man Scotty Moore — of rockabilly’s instrumental center, so pervasive that modern day players automatically gravitate toward it when called upon to deliver the style, not even realizing that they’re playing Carl Perkins licks, sometimes note for note. As a singer, his interpretation of country ballads is every bit as fine as his better known rockers. And within the framework of the best of his music is a strong sense of family and roots, all of which trace straight back to Carl’s humble beginnings. (Continue Reading…)

Perkins was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Above is That’s Alright Mama and below is Matchbox.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.