National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – March 21 – Pinetop Perkins

0 Comments 21 March 2013


We’ve one of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen as a subject of today’s DPD – Pinetop Perkins.

It was on the backs of people like Pinetop that American rhythm and blues music was built. He has also been credited with teaching Ike Turner how to play the piano. Elton John, Billy Joel and Gregg Allman have said they were influenced by his exuberant, down-home style of playing. Pinetop even performed at The Band’s 1978 swan song – The Last Waltz.

What’s more, he gives the staff here at the NOR hope for prosperity later on in our career. Sure, when we started out we thought the NOR would be the go to source in obit writing worldwide by now. We’re not there yet but we keep plugging away.

Pinetop’s longevity as a performer was remarkable — all the more so considering his fondness for cigarettes and alcohol; by his own account he began smoking at age 9 and didn’t quit drinking until he was 82. Few people working in any popular art form have been as prolific in the ninth and tenth decades of their lives. At age 97 he became the oldest Grammy Award winner (beating out perennial grouch and cheapskate George “I forgot my wallet” Burns.

A sideman for most of his career, Mr. Perkins did not release an album under his own name until his 75th year. After which he released another dozen albums.

The author Robert Gordon, in his book “Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters,” wrote that Mr. Perkins “learned to play in the same school as Muddy — a cotton field, where the conjugation was done with a hoe and the school lunch was a fish sandwich and homemade whiskey.”

Originally a guitarist, Mr. Perkins concentrated exclusively on the piano after an incident, in 1943, in which a dancer at a juke joint attacked him with a knife, severing the tendons in his left arm. The injury left him unable to hold a guitar or manage its fretboard (not to mention grabbing cookies from the cookie jar).

Here’s to an American Legend

Wait a few minutes to let it cool, then grab a warm obit!

Pinetop Perkins, Delta Boogie-Woogie Master, Dies at 97


Published: March 21, 2011

Pinetop Perkins, the boogie-woogie piano player who worked in Muddy Waters’s last great band and was among the last surviving members of the first generation of Delta bluesmen, died on Monday at his home in Austin, Tex. He was 97. Continue

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