On March 21, 2011, we lost a legend. Now I never did see him play, but his Boogie Woogie I loved, even though it was written by Pinetop Smith. So even though I do not know and did not know much about the man, here is a little tribute to…
(July 7, 1913 – March 21, 2011)
Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie, different versions , High Heel Sneakers and Mojo. Thanks for the music 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 choirgirl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Perkins switched to the piano, and also switched from Robert Nighthawk’s KFFA radio program to Sonny Boy Williamson’s King Biscuit Time. He continued working with Nighthawk, however, accompanying him on 1950’s “Jackson Town Gal”.
In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker and began touring, stopping to record “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” (written byPinetop Smith) at Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis. (“They used to call me Pinetop,” he recalled, “because I played that song.”) He then relocated to Illinois and left music until Hooker convinced him to record again in 1968.
When Otis Spann left the Muddy Waters band, Perkins was chosen to replace him. He stayed for more than a decade, then left with several other musicians to form the Legendary Blues Band, recording through the late 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Perkins performed concerts on his own and did some touring in 2006 at the age of 93.
Perkins was driving his auto in 2004 in La Porte, Indiana, when he was hit by a train. The car was totalled, but the 91-year-old driver was not seriously hurt.
Perkins now lives in Austin, Texas. He usually performs a couple of songs every Tuesday night at the legendary Texas country dance hall, The Broken Spoke.
In 2005, Perkins received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The song “Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins”, performed by Pinetop Perkins & Angela Strehli, plays on the common misconception that Perkins wrote “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”.