Volume 91, Issue 64

Thursday, January 22, 1998



Rockabilly legend remembered

By Tim Merrill
Gazette Staff

Last Monday morning the music world lost one of the last surviving pioneers of rock 'n' roll. Carl Perkins died at the age of 65 of a stroke. Perkins had been admitted to a hospital in Jackson, Tennessee to repair a clogged artery within his heart. After surviving a near fatal car crash in 1957 and battling throat cancer in 1993, Perkins finally succumbed to illness this week after three consecutive strokes.

Perkins will be forever known as one of the primary innovators behind the development of modern rock music, in creating the "rockabilly," a hybrid of country music and rock 'n' roll. As a songwriter, Carl Perkins has been primarily acknowledged for writing "Blue Suede Shoes," the hit that propelled Elvis Presley to superstardom. Perkins also helped to support the career of Johnny Cash by writing the song "Daddy Sang Bass" for the legendary man in black. For his contributions in the field of music, Perkins was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

The music of Carl Perkins played a large part in influencing the early career of The Beatles, as they covered several of his songs, including "Honey Don't," "Matchbox" and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby." While many musicians such as George Harrison would try to emulate Perkins' rambling guitar stylings, no one has been able to duplicate the unique sounds he was able to produce. In the final years of his career, Perkins wrote several songs for country legends Dolly Parton and The Judds.

Last year Perkins entered the studio with longtime protégés Willie Nelson, John Fogerty and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to collaborate on his final record Go Cat Go. Carl Perkins and his contributions to the world of rock 'n' roll will be long remembered and he will be sorely missed.

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