Carl Lee Perkins (April 9, 1932 – January 19, 1998) was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, 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' songs were recorded by artists (and friends) as influential as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Cash, which further cemented his place in the history of popular music. Paul McCartney even 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, the Rockabilly, and the Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame; and was a Grammy Hall of Fame Award recipient.
Carl Perkins's song Blue Suede Shoes is ranked #78 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll.
Perkins' last name was misspelled as "Perkings" on his birth certificate.
When Perkins first got married, he and his wife lived in a government housing project in Jackson, TN, and he worked in a bakery to make ends meet.
Perkins had an older brother named Jay and a younger brother named Clayton. They played in his first band. Tragically, both brothers would die young.
Perkins was the son of Buck and Louise Perkins.
Perkins battled alcholism for a long time but stopped drinking in 1967 when he threw his final bottle of whiskey into the Pacific Ocean.
Perkins' version of Blue Suede Shoes sold more records than Elvis Presley's version of the song.
In 1956, Perkins was involved in a near fatal car accident outside of Dover, DE while traveling to New York to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Perkins was portrayed by Johnny Holiday in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.
Perkins was married to Valda Crider from 1953 until his death. The couple had three sons and one daughter.
Perkins was 6 feet, 1 inch tall.
Perkins was voted 69th greatest rock and roll artist of all-time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Perkins is interred in Ridgecrest Cemetary in Jackson, TN.
Perkins' final album was Go Cat Go! released in 1996.
In 1987, Perkins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1989, Perkins was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Perkins was part of the Million Dollar Quartet at Sun Records with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.
Perkins spent ten years in the late 60's and early 70's playing guitar in Johnny Cash's band before deciding to try to re-ignite his solo career.
Perkins wrote Daddy Sang Bass which became a number one hit on the country charts for Johnny Cash.
The Beatles recorded three songs written by Perkins: Matchbox, Honey Don't, and Everybody's Tryin' to Be My Baby.
Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes was the first record by a Sun Records artist to sell a million copies.
Blue Suede Shoes was the only number one hit single Perkins ever had.
Perkins wrote his most famous song Blue Suede Shoes on an old potato sack.
At age 13 Perkins won a talent contest singing a song he wrote called Movie Magg. This would later be the first song he recorded for Sun Records.
At age 7 Perkins began playing a guitar his father fashioned from a cigar box, a broomstick, and bailing wire.
Perkins' family were tenant farmers.