Playlist: Five From Carl Perkins

[column size=one_half position=first ]carl_perkins Carl Perkins is one of the pillars of rock and roll. Here is the beginning of his profile at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website, into which he was inducted in 1987:

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. After flipping for Presley’s recording of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Perkins made the trip to Memphis in August 1954 with the hope of auditioning for Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. He was told to write more songs and stay in touch; a few months later, he cut his first single for the label, “Movie Magg.” In December 1955, he recorded a song of his that would quickly become the signature song of the rockabilly genre: “Blue Suede Shoes.” It was a tune so full of hot licks and hipster cool that Presley himself was moved to cover it. ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ became an anthem for a rebellious postwar generation, embodying its unrest and pride as succinctly as any James Dean film,” wrote music historian Art Fein. (Continue Reading…) [/column][column size=one_half position=last ]

  1. "Honey Don't" on The David Letterman Show, 1990 4:56
  2. "Blue Suede Shoes" on The Perry Como Show in 1956 2:29
  3. "That's Alright Mama" 2:11
  4. "Forever Yours" on the Western Ranch Party, 1958 2:43
  5. "Matchbox" on The Johnny Cash Show with Cash and Eric Clapton, 1970 3:46

[/column] Here is more on rockabilly from Wikipedia:

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of American folk and Western musical styles, such ascountry and bluegrass, with that of rhythm and blues,[1] leading to what is considered “classic” rock and roll.[2] Some have also described it as a blend of the bluegrass style with rock and roll.[3] The term “rockabilly” itself is a portmanteau of “rock” (from “rock ‘n’ roll”) and “hillbilly“, the latter a reference to the country music (often called “hillbilly music” in the 1940s and 1950s) that contributed strongly to the style’s development. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing and boogie woogie.

Defining features of the rockabilly sound included strong rhythms, vocal twangs and common use of the tape echo,[4] but the progressive addition of different instruments and vocal harmonies led to its “dilution”.[1] Initially popularised by artists such as Bill HaleyElvis PresleyCarl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis,[5] the influence and success of the style waned in the 1960s; nonetheless, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival through acts such as the Stray Cats. An interest in the genre endures even in the 21st century, often within a subculture. Rockabilly has left a legacy, spawning a variety of sub-styles and influencing other genres such as punk rock. (Continue Reading…)