Rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, who died in January following a stroke,
was born on this day in 1932 in Lake City, Tenn. He began his
career performing at hometown dances and on local radio shows with his
brothers, Jay and Clayton. In 1955, he was signed by Sam Phillips'
legendary Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn., and Clayton recorded his song
"Blue Suede Shoes," which became the first record to top the pop, country and
charts simultaneously. At Sun, Perkins shared studio space with future
music giants Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy
Orbison. His raw, rockabilly music and good looks bode well for his
musical future, but he was sidelined by a car crash while driving to New
York to appear on crooner Perry Como's TV show. The accident put Perkins
out of commission for a month and led to the early death of his brother
Jay two years later from a brain tumor sustained in the crash. While Perkins
was still recovering from a skull fracture suffered in the car accident, Presley
covered "Blue Suede Shoes"; Presley's cover of the tune became an even
bigger hit than the composer's version and led to a
stratospheric rise for the King that eclipsed Perkins' career. Upon recovering
from the crash, Perkins had a few more minor hits such as "Boppin' the Blues,"
but his life fell into decline, due primarily to an alcohol
addiction. On a U.K. tour with Chuck Berry in 1963, Perkins met the
Beatles, big fans of his. He joined them in the studio to
oversee their recording of some of his songs, including "Honey Don't,"
"Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby" and "Matchbox." The next year, he turned
music and joined Cash's touring band. During this time, the two men
began conquering their booze and pills addictions together and Perkins
frequently appeared on Cash's hit TV show. Perkins wrote "Daddy Sang
Bass" for Cash and hit the country charts with songs such as "Restless"
and "Cotton Top."
In 1978, Perkins released a rock album, Ol' Blue Suedes Is Back, which
sold 100,000 copies in the U.K., buoyed by that country's renewed
interest in rockabilly. He also toured with his sons as backing
musicians. In 1981, he played on Paul McCartney's Tug of War,
then spent the early part of the decade touring. Perkins was inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and continued to perform in
clubs throughout the '90s. His biography, "Go, Cat, Go," was
published in 1995. That same year, Perkins released an album
with the same title that featured collaborations with Cash, McCartney,
George Harrison, Tom Petty, John Fogerty and Paul Simon. In the summer
of '97, Perkins recovered from carotid-artery surgery and defeated throat
Other birthdays: Kevin Martin (Candlebox), 29.