Carl Lee Perkins (April 9, 1932 – January 19, 1998) was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis, beginning in 1954. His best-known song is “Blue Suede Shoes“.
According to Charlie Daniels, “Carl Perkins’ songs personified the rockabilly era, and Carl Perkins’ sound personifies the rockabilly sound more so than anybody involved in it, because he never changed.” Perkins’s songs were recorded by artists (and friends) as influential as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Cash, which further established his place in the history of popular music. Paul McCartney claimed that “if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles.”
Called “the King of Rockabilly”, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He also received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Perkins was born near Tiptonville, Tennessee, the son of poor sharecroppers, Buck and Louise Perkins (misspelled on his birth certificate as “Perkings”). He grew up hearing southern gospelmusic sung by white friends in church and by African-American field workers when he worked in the cotton fields. Beginning at the age of six, during spring and autumn, school days would be followed by a few hours of work in the fields. In the summer, workdays were 12 to 14 hours, “from can to can’t.”