WBEZ | Sun Studios http://www.wbez.org/tags/sun-studios Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Paying tribute to blues legend Pinetop Perkins http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-25/paying-tribute-blues-legend-pinetop-perkins-84229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-24/84693836 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On March 21, 2001, the Blues world lost a legend when <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pinetopperkins.com/">Joseph Willie &quot;Pinetop&quot; Perkins</a> passed away at his home in Austin, Texas.<br /><br />Born in Belzoni, Mississippi in 1913, Mr. Perkins started out on guitar. But when a woman slashed his arm with a knife, he was forced to switch to piano. In the '30s, he gigged around the Delta. In the '40s, he played with Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Nighthawk. A kid named Ike Turner used to carry Nighthawk&rsquo;s amps, and he idolized Perkins, who taught Turner how to pay Boogie Woogie style piano. Because it&rsquo;s Iike playing keys on the 1951 song &quot;Rocket 88&quot;, and because that tune is considered by some historians to be the first rock &lsquo;n roll song, Perkins is credited by some for helping invent rock &lsquo;n roll.<br /><br />He did a short stint in the 1950s with BB King. And while touring the south with Earl Hooker, the pair stopped by the famed <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sunstudio.com/">Sun Studios</a> in Memphis. There, they recorded Clarence &quot;Pinetop&quot; Smith&rsquo;s &quot;Pinetop&rsquo;s Boogie Woogie&quot;, and the nickname stuck.<br /><br />Perkins moved to Chicago in the late '50s, and left music for a time. However, when the piano chair opened up in Muddy Water&rsquo;s band in 1968, Pinetop Perkins got the call. He would play with Muddy for over a decade. But for all the notoriety and respect Perkins garnered as a sideman, it wasn&rsquo;t until he was in his '70s that he began to lead a band and put his own playing front and center.<br /><br />Perkins made up for lost time, releasing 15 albums in 15 years, and headlining venues from small clubs-he packed <a target="_blank" href="http://www.evanstonspace.com/">SPACE</a> in Evanston last year-to major festivals around the world. He became the oldest person to win a Grammy last month for his album &lsquo;Joined at the Hip&rsquo; with fellow Chicago blues legend Willie &quot;Big Eyes&quot; Smith.<br /><br />Pinetop Perkins was so active, he had 20 gigs on his calendar when he passed away Monday at the age of 97. A public memorial will be held for him tomorrow in Austin, and Perkins will be buried in Clarksdale, Mississippi.</p></p> Sat, 26 Mar 2011 02:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-25/paying-tribute-blues-legend-pinetop-perkins-84229