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Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins (Sun, 1956)

Carl Lee Perkins has been dubbed “The King of Rockabilly.” He has been inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly and Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame and has been a Grammy Hall of Fame Award recipient.

Perkins was born to poor sharecroppers. He grew up listening to Southern gospel music. His first job (at age six) was working in the cotton fields near Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Evenings spent listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio prompted Perkins to ask his parents for a guitar. Not being able to afford it, his father built him one out of a cigar box and a broom. Eventually, his father purchased a dented, scratched Gene Autry model guitar. A fellow field worker and Perkins himself were responsible for Perkins learning how to play.

At age 14, he wrote a song, Let Me Take You to the Movie, Magg, that would later lead him to signing with Sun Records. Also at this age, Perkins and his brother Jay landed their first paying jobs as entertainers. They put together a band and became well-known in the area.

In January 1953, he married Valda Crider, who encouraged him to devote himself full-time to playing taverns with his band, the Perkins Brothers.

In October 1954 Perkins successfully auditioned for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Blue Suede Shoes was released January 1, 1956 and went all the way up the country chart to #1. In March 1956, Perkins became the first country artist to score a #3 record on the R&B chart. In the UK, it went all the way to #10. It was the first record by a Sun label artist to sell a million copies. The song was Perkins’ only number one hit.

On March 22, 1956, Perkins was involved in an automobile accident that killed his brother Jay. He returned to live performances on April 21, 1956.

During 1958 Perkins switched to Columbia Records where he continued recording with many notable names, such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton and the Beatles.

His last album Go Cat Go! was released in 1996. His last major concert performance was the Music for Montserrat All-Star charity concert in London in September 1997. Four months later, at age 65, on January 19, 1998, Perkins died in Jackson, Tennessee from throat cancer.

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