Remembering Pinetop Perkins..

22 Mar

We just recieved the sad news about Pinetop Perkins-This story taken from Blues Harp Player Bob Corritore’s e-mail: RIP Pinetop Perkins July 7, 1913 to March 21, 2011. Nobody can live forever, but for a period of time in his long life of 97 years, the legendary Pinetop Perkins made us think it was possible. It is with tears that we say goodbye to one of the most loved and highly respected blues musicians of our time. Pinetop Perkins died today of heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas. We know that Pinetop led a rich and happy life, and that he understood the simple pleasures, which he enjoyed everyday. Pinetop Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choir-girl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Pinetop switched to the piano. He got his moniker from playing the popular “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”, a 1928 hit by pianist Pinetop Smith. Pinetop accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson II on the Helena based radio program King Biscuit Time on KFFA. He worked with Robert Nighthawk, accompanying him on the 1950 Aristocrat recording of “Jackson Town Gal”. In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker’s band and began touring, stopping to record “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” at Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Pinetop was a major influence on the young Ike Turner, whom he taught piano. Pinetop joined the Muddy Waters Band in 1969, replacing Otis Spann, and playing in the band for over a decade. It is from his time with Muddy that Pinetop became a well known name in the blues. Pinetop would leave Muddy’s band with other band members to form The Legendary Blues Band before restarting his solo career. Along the way, Pinetop was helped by the confident direction provided by manager Patricia Morgan, who was a tireless and diplomatic advocate. Pinetop won three Grammy Awards, and so many Handy Awards that he gracefully took himself out of the running by changing the piano category award to his namesake. Though he rose to the highest of stature, Pinetop was always very accessible and appeared on numerous albums, and projects. He remained active, healthy and happy until the end, even with a daily habit of cigarettes, and McDonald’s (double mac with cheese, medium sprite, and an apple pie). He spent his 97th birthday flying to Spain to play a blues festival, and this year he won his third Grammy for “Best Traditional Blues album” for Joined At The Hip, his collaboration with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on the Telarc label. We should also mention Barry Nowlin, Michael Freeman, Bob Margolin, Hugh Southard of Blue Mountain Artists, Onnie Heaney, Little Frank Krakowski, Bob Stroger, Diunna Greenleaf, and Pete Carlson for their support roles in Pinetop’s life. We will miss Pinetop’s distinctive voice and his elegant, interactive piano style. He has touched all of us with his charm, his talent, and his loving approach to life. Though we hate to say goodbye, we have to be thankful for the great joy that he brought us. God bless you Pinetop.

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