Monday, January 3, 2011

Carl Perkins - "Boppin' The Blues" - Sun Records, 1956

Carl Perkins was born in 1932 in rural Tennesee. The son of sharecroppers, he was exposed to hillbilly, blues and gospel music growing up. His interest in the guitar started early, but since his family couldn't afford one he started with a "guitar" his father fashioned from a cigar box and a broomstick. Later he was able to purchase a proper, but used and abused, guitar from a neighbor. He also picked up a thing or two from fellow field worker John Westbrook. Some advice from 'Uncle John' on playing the guitar:
"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."
Feel the Vibrations, Carl!
After years of solid playing, first part-time in local taverns and slowing moving to full-time regional hitmaker on Sun Records, Carl's big break was with "Blue Suede Shoes" in 1956. From Wikipedia: "Released on January 1, 1956, "Blue Suede Shoes" was a massive chart success. In the United States, it scored No. 1 on Billboard magazine's country music charts (the only No. 1 success he would have) and No. 2 on Billboard's Best Sellers popular music chart. On March 17, Perkins became the first country artist to score No. 3 on the rhythm & blues charts." - Rockabilly had arrived!
"Boppin' the Blues", released later that year, reached no. 47 on the Cash Box pop singles chart, no. 9 on the Billboard country and western chart, and no. 70 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
After a very long and succssful career, Perkins died on January 19, 1998 at the age of 65 at Jackson-Madison County Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee from throat cancer after suffering several strokes.
Started by Sam Phillips in Memphis in 1952, Sun Records' important place in the history of Rock 'N' Roll music is undisputed. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash - just a few of the folks who got their start at Sun.
Sam working on his latest phat beat
The evolving Rockabilly sound with it's fusion of Hillbilly/Country music and blues influences was certainly cemented at the Sun studio. Did you know Sun mostly put out RnB music early on? Wish I had some of those singles! Sun Records is still around, but it's just a vehicle for merchandising options on material from the glory days of the 50's - all your Sun Records golf balls and coffee mug needs are covered. I don't think they've released any new music since the early/mid 60s, but perhaps I'm mistaken.
And now, the clip!

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