BLUE SUEDE SHOES
The Beatles were quoted as saying they learnt to play guitar from listening to the legendary
‘Dance’ album out on the Sun Label by Carl Perkins. Born into a poor family in Tennessee,
he had been part of a family band with bros Jay and Clayton, playing the Bar rooms and honky-
tonks learning much. He once described his music as country with a beat. From 1954 until January1959 were the influential times in the recording life of Carl Perkins, under the famous
An article in Rock magazine quotes Perkins and his recipe for success.
‘At the Sun label, if you didn’t get the sound right you swould do it again and again. No good
putting a red light or clock on in front of a musician. Watching the time, makes concentration
an issue. The Music must be as spontaneous as possible.’
One of the first to get a rockabilly record in the national top 10, including Pop, Country and RnB.
April 1956, a number 1 with ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’ However, a car accident stopped him from
touring as he lay in hospital and watched Elvis Presely perform the song on Television. To the
Bobby Sox crowd he brought ‘uptempo, supercharged music, excitement, and was among the first
to introduce Rhythm and Blues to the hillbilly style, with the name rockabilly being used.
In 1959 he had a minor hit with ‘Pointed Toe Shoes’ but, by 1963 Perkins was playing the Reno
and Vegas circuits doing six, forty-five minute shosws daily. His popularity had all but vanished.
His self-respect was once again regained, as wild receptions awaited his visit to England in 1964
with banners ‘Welcome Carl Beatle Crusher Perkins’ as he toured the country with Chuck Berry.
The Beatles even paid a timely visit, to show their appreciation of his music.
The result of the tour was a British hit with the song ‘Big Bad Blues’ and appearances on the
popular show Ready Steady Go TV program.
He wrote ‘So Wrong’ for Patsy Cline, hits for Johnny Cash, also the track ‘Daddy Sang Bass.’
He made many great records but is remembered more for his time with Sun Records with singles
‘Bobbin the Blues’ ‘Matchbox’ and ‘Dixie Fried.’
In 1967 he toured the sworld with old Sun Records buddy Johnny Cash, and beat what he
called the demon drink.
Importantly also was the combination of Perkins and Cash getting together in 1971 to write the
music for the Robert Redford movie ‘Little Faus and Big Halsy.’ Thirteen tracks in all, with
some instrumentals and the Carter Family on vocals also.
Away from his music he was instrumental in establishing with others the very first and one of
four in the nation, a centre for the Prevention of child abuse in Tennessee.
Footnote: ‘Daddy Sang Bass’ went to Number 1 in 1968 fro Johnny Cash and stayed there for
‘Boppin the Blue’ was recorded by Australian band Blackfeather and reached the
number 1 spot in 1972 and stayed there for four weeks.
He also wrote the song ‘Honey Don’t’ recorded by the Beatles.