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From the Land of Band Box Records

“He never changed”…

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Musician Charlie Daniels has stated this about Carl Perkins: “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.” 

And Paul McCartney further added, “if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles”.

Perkins’ Roots

Perkins was born on April 9th, 1932 in small Tiptonville, Tennessee – located in the middle of the State – west of Nashville and north of Memphis.  He was born Carl Lee Perkins – although his official birth certificate cited him as “Perkings” – a misspelling.

Tiptonville, Tennessee – 1940’s – Perkins Brothers’ Stomping Grounds

Perhaps Carl’s most influential figure for guiding his guitar playing was a local black field hand by the name of John Westbrook who advised young Carl that when it came to the guitar ….”you can feel it travel down the strangs, come through your head and down to your soul where you live.  Let it vib-a-rate.”  And “vib-a-rate” it Carl did!

He composed his first song at the age of 14.  The song would be known locally around Madison, Tennessee, where the Perkins family had moved to, as “Let Me Take You to the Movie Magg”.  The tune would serve to convince Sun Records’ owner Sam Phillips to bring Carl onto his label.  The song would come out on Sam’s “Flip” label, which paralleled Sun releases for about a year during 1955 with a handful of releases.

Perkins’ 1st Composition – Age 14

Carl and his brother Jay worked together as a country duo in 1946.  The pair would often perform Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” ahead of the Presley release nearly a decade later.  In a year or so – Carl brought in brother Clayton to add some thumping rhythm on stand-up bass.  They did radio shows and supplemented a lack of income with field labor (cotton), industrial plants and all sorts of odd jobs.

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The Perkins – Carl and Jay

Carl and Sam

Once Carl had signed onto Sun with Sam Phillips, would release Carl’s first effort shorting the title to “Movie Mag”.  The tune received some airplay but not enough to land on any local radio stations record popularity charts.  The other side “Turn Around” actually out performed “Movie Mag”.

Joining The Sun Family – May 12th, 1956

Big Shoes to Fill

That success would come on Perkins’ third effort for Phillips “Blue Suede Shoes” backed with “Honey Don’t”.  “Blue Suede Shows” would be Carl’s biggest success peaking at number 2.  His following chart success was very modest – and not the determining factor of his huge influence in the world of rockabilly and then rock and roll.  “Blue Suede Shoes” would go number 1 on the Country Charts and place number 2 R&B – making him the first white rock artist to peak that high R&B.

A Pair of Blue Suedes in the Presley Museum

Presley would come along five months later to eclipse that feat with a number 1 in May of 1956 with “Hound Dog”.  Elvis would place 35 recordings on the R&B charts up through  1963 including six number 1’s.  For the record if you were wondering – Bill Haley and the Comet’s “Rock Around the Clock” came ahead of both the Perkins and Presley releases on the R&B charts – June of 1955 – but peaked at number 3.

From “Swade to Suede

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Sam Phillips and Carl Displaying “Blue Suede Shoes” Award

The inspiration for “Blue Suede Shoes” allegedly (there are two versions) came at while he was performing at a juke joint and overheard a young man on the dance floor admonish his girlfriend shouting “… don’t step on my suedes!”

That evening Carl began work on the song – initially scribbling a temporary title “Blue Swade”.

March 5th, 1956 – The Perkins – McLemore Agency Promotion

Later, when he took the song into the Sun studio – Phillips made a minor change – but a good one – convincing Perkins to change the lyric line “go boy, go” to “go cat, go!”

Following the success of “Blue Suede Shoes”, Perkins’ next highest charting recording would come in March of 1957, “Your True Love” fizzling out at number 67.  It was his 3rd and final Sun record to chart on the Hot 100.  “B.

Amazingly the Perkins’ recordings of “Honey Don’t”, “Matchbox”, “Gone, Gone, Gone”, and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” all failed to make the charts by Perkins.

In late 1956, Elvis Presley, who had departed Sun for RCA Victor, stopped back into the Sun studio – joined his former Sun colleagues, and “The Million Dollar Quartet” was born as Sam Phillips ran the tape to capture the session.

Cash Box December 29th, 1956

To to Movies! – Jamboree!

In 1957, Carl Perkins was part of the immense rock and roll cast of a motion picture titled “Jamboree”.  The plot was a little thin – about a young couple trying to find their way – as “Peter Porter” and “Honey Wynn” – portrayed by Paul Carr and Freda Hollway – neither a household name.  But the musicians surrounding them throughout the movie impressive indeed!  Fats Domino, The Teenagers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Know, Jimmy Bowen, Charlie Gracie and Connie Francis to name a few.

Carl Perkins in 1957 movie Jamboree

Jamboree – November, 1957 Ad

Onto Columbia & Beyond

Carl Perkins Columbia Records

Trade Ad March 17th, 1958 – Perkins Joins Columbia’s Vast Roster

Perkins survived a terrible automobile accident in March of 1956.  Injuries from the accident to brother Jay contributed to his early demise in 1958.

With little chart success, Perkins moves on to Columbia Records in 1958.  He released 11 singles and an LP – two tracks charted Hot 100.

Cash Box November 14th, 1959 – Columbia Country Roster with Perkins

From there on out there were a succession of labels – Decca – then back to Columbia in the 1970’s releasing several 45’s over a four-year period of time.  There would be very successful tours of Great Britain – a county that never abandon’s the founding rockers, TV shows, motion pictures – a nice recording reunion in 1986 – at the Sun studio – recording with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison for “The Class of ’55”.

Perkins Signs with Mercury Records – Short Lived May 12th, 1973

May 16th, 1987 – Dick Clark and Perkins – Country Music’s Career Achievement Award

Cash Box June 14th, 1980 – “The Class of ’55”

Cash Box May 5th, 1984 – Perkins – Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash

Deserved Recognition

Carl Perkins has been inducted into all right ‘Halls’: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987), The Grammy Hall of Fame for Blue Suede Shoes (1986), The Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2014), The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1985) and for my liking – the best one – The Rockabilly Hall of Fame where he is acknowledged as “The King of Rockabilly”.

Cash Box – Country Music Achievement – for Perkins’ “Daddy Sang Bass” – 1969

Cash Box January 17th, 1987 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Perkins

Cash Box April 25th, 1987 – Perkins Career Achievement Award”

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Memphis Music Hall of Fame – 2014

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Perkins in the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Carl Perkins never relented or compromised – He came in a rocker and departed a rocker.  He performed on September 15th, 1997 in Great Britain – and would leave us just four months later – succumbing to cancer.  Carl Perkins was 65 years old.

Carl Perkins Discography

Carl Perkins 45 RPM Discography

78/45 – Flip 501 – Movie Magg/Turn Around – Released February, 1955

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78/45 – Sun 224 – Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing/Gone, Gone, Gone

78/45 – Sun 234 – Blue Suede Shoes – Charted Number 2 Hot 100 – Number 1 Country b/w/Honey Don’t – March 3rd, 1956

Billboard March 3rd, 1956

78/45 – Sun 243 – Boppin’ The Blues – Charted Number 70 Hot 100 – Number 7 Country b/w All Mama’s Children – July 14th, 1956

78/45 – Sun 249 – I’m Sorry. I’m Not Sorry/Dixie Fried – Double Sided Hit Country – Charted Number 10 Both Tracks – October 6th, 1956

78/45 – Sun 261 – Your True Love Charted Number 67 Hot 100 – Number 13 Country b/w Matchbox – March 9th, 1957

Billboard February 23rd, 1957

78/45 – Sun 274 – That’s Right b/w Forever Yours – Released August 15th, 1957

78/45 – Glad All Over/Lend Me Your Comb – Released December, 1957

45 EP – Sun 115 – Blue Suede Shoes – Released 1958

45 – Columbia 4-41131 – Pink Pedal Pushers – Charted Number 17 Country – March 31st, 1958

45 – Columbia 4-41207 – Levi Jacket (And a Long Tall Shirt) b/w Pop, Let Me Have the Car – Released July 7th, 1958

45 EP – Columbia 12341 – Whole Lotta Shakin’ – Released 1958

45 – Columbia 4-41296 – Y-O-U b/w This Life I Have – Released November 24th, 1958

45 – Columbia 4-41379 – Pointed Toe Shoes b/w Highway of Love – Released April 13th, 1959

Billboard June 20th, 1959

45 – Columbia 4-41449 – One Ticket To Loneliness b/w I Don’t See Me In Your Eyes Anymore – Released August 10th, 1959

45 EP – Columbia – The Big Hits! – Carl Perkins with other artists – 1959

45 – Columbia 4-41651 – L-O-V-E-V-I-L-L-E b/w Too Much For A Man to Understand – Released April, 1960

45 – Columbia 4-41825 – Honey ‘Cause I Love You b/w Just For You – Released October 24th, 1960

45 – Columbia 4-42061 – Anyway The Wind Blows b/w The Unhappy Girls – Released July 7th, 1961

45 – Columbia 4-42405 – Hollywood City b/w The Fool I Used To Be – Released April 6th, 1962

45 – Columbia 4-42514 – Sister Twister b/w Hambone – Released July 27th, 1962

45 – Columbia 4-42753 – I’ve Just Got Back From There b/w Forget Me (Next Time Around) – Released March 22nd, 1963

 

45 – Decca 31548 – For A Little While b/w Help Me Find My Baby – Released October, 1963

Billboard October 26th, 1963

45 – Decca 31591 – After Sundown b/w I Wouldn’t Have You – Released February, 1964

Billboard March 7th, 1963

45 – Decca 31709 – The Monkeyshine b/w Let My Baby Be – Released December, 1964

45 – Decca 31786 – Mama Of My Song b/w One Of These Days – Released May, 1965

45 – Dollie 505 – Country Boy’s Dream – Charted Number 22 Country – b/w If I Could Come Back – December 17th, 1966

45 – Dollie 512 – You Can Take The Boy Out of the Country  b/w Without You – Released December, 1967

45 – Dollie 508 – Shine, Shine, Shine – Charted Number 40 Country b/w Without You – May 20th, 1967

45 – Dollie 514 – My Old Home Town b/w Back To Tennessee – Released September, 1967

45 – Dollie 516 – Lake County Country b/w It’s You – Released 1968

45 – Columbia 4-44723 – Restless – Charted Number 20 Country b/w 1143 – January 4th, 1968

45 – Columbia 9931 – Soul Beat b/w C.C. Rider (You’re So Bad) – Released September 30th, 1969

Billboard November 29th, 1969

45 – Columbia 4-45107 – All Mama’s Children b/w Step Aside – Released March 3rd, 1970 (with NRBQ)

45 – Columbia 4-45132 – State of Confusion b/w My Son, My Son – Released March 31st, 1970

45 – Columbia 4-45253 – What Every Little Boy Ought To Know b/w Just As Long – Released October 3rd, 1970

45 – Columbia 4-45347 – Me Without You – Charted Number 20 Country – b/w Red Headed Woman – May 29th, 1971

45 – Columbia 4-45466 – Cotton Top – Charted Number 65 Country b/w About All I Can Give – December, 11th, 1971

Cash Box January 1st, 1972

45 – Columbia 4-45582 – High On Love – Charted Number 60 Country b/w Take Me Back To Memphis – May 6th, 1972

45 – Columbia 4-45694 – The Trip b/w Someday – Released September 15th, 1972

45 – Mercury 73393 – You Tore My Heaven All To Hell b/w Help Me Dream – Released 1973

45 – Mercury 73425 – (Let’s Get) Dixiefried – Charted Number 61 Country b/w One More Loser Goin’ Home – October 13th, 1973

45 – Mercury 73489 – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town b/w Sing My Song – Released May, 1974

45 – Mercury 55009 – The E.P. Express b/w Big Bad Blues – Released 1975

45 – Mercury 73653 – Low Class b/w You’ll Always Be A Lady To Me – Released 1975

45 – Music Mill 1007 – Take Me Back b/w Born to Boogie – Released 1976

45 – Suede S-101 – We Did In 54 b/w I Don’t Want To Fall In Love Again – Released May, 1981

45 – Suede S-102 – Rock-A-Billy Fever b/w Till You Get Through With Me – Released – October, 1981

45 – America 884 760-7 – The Birth of Rock and Roll – Charted Number 31 Country – (Flip side by Jerry Lee Lewis & Roy Orbison) -June 7th, 1986

45 – America 884 934-7 – Rock and Roll (Fais-Do-Do) b/w Sixteen Candles – Released July, 1986

45 – America 888-142-7 – Class of ’55 – Charted Number 83 b/w We Remember the King (by Cash, Lewis, Orbison and Perkins) – March 28th, 1987

45 – Universal 66002 – Charlene b/w Love Makes Dreams Come True – Released February, 1989

45 – Universal 66019 – Hambone b/w Love Makes Dreams Come True – Released August, 1989

45 – Suede Record Company 6777 – Little Tear Drops b/w Green Green Grass of Home

Carl Perkins Long Play Discography

None of Carl Perkins’ LP’s managed to chart in the U.S.

LP – Sun 1225 – Released 1957

LP – Columbia 1234 – Whole Lotta Shakin’ – Released November, 1958

LP – Dollie 4001 – Country Boy’s Dream – Released 1967

LP – Columbia 9833 – Carl Perkins’ Greatest Hits – Released 1969

Billboard May 31st, 1969

LP – Columbia 9931 – Carl Perkins On Top – Released November, 1969

Cash Box November 8th, 1969

Cash Box October 18th, 1969

LP – Sun 111 – Original Golden Hits – Released 1969

Billboard August 22nd, 1970

LP – Sun 112 – Blue Suede Shoes – Released 1969

LP – Columbia 9981 – Boppin’ The Blues (with NRBQ) – Released 1970

LP – Harmony 11385 – Carl Perkins – Released 1970

LP – Hilltop 6103 – Matchbox – Released 1971

LP – Harmony 53111 – Brown-Eyed Handsome Man – Released 1972

LP – Harmony 31792 – The Greatest Hits of Carl Perkins – Released 1973

LP – Mercury 1-691 – My Kind Of Country – Released 1973

LP – Suede – The Carl Perkins Show – Released 1976

LP – Sun 9330-903 – The Sun Story – Vol. 3 – Released 1977

LP – Jet 856 – Ol’ Blue Suede’s Back – Released 1978

Cash Box November 4th, 1978

 

Billboard October 10th, 1979

LP – Koala 14174 – Cane Creek Glory Church – Released 1979

LP – Koala 14137 – Rock ‘N Gospel – Released 1979

LP – Koala 14144 – Sing A Song With Me – Released 1979

LP – Koala 14164 – Country Soul – Released 1979

LP – Koala 14384 – The Best of Carl Perkins – Released 1980

LP – Suede Records 002 – Live At Austin City Limits – Released 1981 (with The C.P. Express)

LP – Charvan 8118 – Country Soul – Released 1981

LP – Accord 7915 – Boppin’ The Blues – Released 1982

LP – Accord 7169 – Presenting Carl Perkins – Released 1982

LP – Columbia 37961 – The Survivors (with Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis) – Released April, 1982

LP – HMC 84915 – The Man – The Legend – Released 1984 (Double LP)

LP – MCA Dot 39035 – Carl Perkins – Released 1985

LP – America Smash 422-830 – Class of ’55 – Released May, 1986 (with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison)

LP – Rhino 70221 – Original Sun Greatest Hits – Released 1986

LP – Rounder 27 – Honky Tonk Gal – Released 1989

LP – Universal 76001 – Born To Rock – Released 1989 (with poster)

Carl Perkins Discography by Other Artists (Charting )

45 – RCA Victor 47-6636 – Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes – Charted Number 20 Billboard Hot 100 – April, 1956

45 – King 4903 – Blue Suede Shoes – Boyd Bennett & His Rockets – Charted Number 63 – April, 1956

45 – Decca 31406 – So Wrong – Patsy Cline – Charted Number 14 Country – Charted Number 85 Billboard Hot 100 – August, 1962

45 – Capitol 5255 – The Beatles – Matchbox – Charted Number 17 Billboard Hot 100- September 5th, 1964

45 – Hickory 45-1382 – Bob Luman – Poor Boy Blues – Charted Number 39 Country – June, 1966

45 – Columbia 4-44689 – Johnny Cash – Daddy Sang Bass – Charted Number 42 Billboard Hot 100 – Number 1 Country for Six Weeks – December, 1968

45 – Epic 5-10574 – Mac Curtis – Honey, Don’t – Charted Number 43 – February, 1970

45 – United Artists 198 – Johnny Rivers – Blue Suede Shoes – Charted Number 38 Billboard Hot 100 – March, 1973

45 – Curb/RCA  8947 – The Judds – Let Me Tell You About Love – Charted Country Number 1 – July, 1989

45 – Mercury 422-862 – The Kentucky Headhunters – Charted Number 71 – May, 1993

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