Carl Perkins, Rock 'n' Roll Legend

Jackson, Tenn. (LNN News) - Carl Perkins, who wrote the hit song "Blue Suede Shoes" that helped him became a legend as one of the founders of rock and roll, died Monday, January 19, 1998 at age 65. A family spokesman said he died of complications from a series of three strokes suffered in the past two months at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

Born April 9, 1932, the son of a tenant farmer in Tennessee, the singer-guitarist was among several rockabilly performers to emerge from Memphis' famed Sun Studios. Fellow labelmates included Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Their fast-paced tunes and twangy lyrics would influence dozens of rockers to come - including the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. Perkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences in 1986 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a year later.

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In 1956, his self penned song "Blue Suede Shoes" was the first in history to reach all three charts; Country, Rock, and Rhythm & Blues. It is said that Elvis would not let RCA Records release his version of "Blue Suede Shoes" out of respect for Carl. So, "Blue Suede Shoes" is Carl Perkins' legacy. But there's lots more that shows off Perkins' abilities as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. Today, it may sound odd that Sun Records owner Sam Phillips thought Perkins was going to be a bigger star than Presley, but to many ropckabilly purists, he is just that. Not opting for Country, as Cash and Lewis did, Perkins kept recording his rockabilly music for the next two decades. The results are solid if not astounding.

In 1991, Carl had to stop touring to undergo treatment for lung cancer and later successfully battled throat cancer. He endured surgery on a blocked artery in his neck in June 1997 and subsequently suffered a series of strokes. Back on stage after his initial bout with cancer, he said "I know how precious and fragile life is now."

Source: LNN News
Photographs: We Wanna Boogie, Randy McNutt
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Carl Perkins is inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame:

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