Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Influences and Inspirations: Carl Perkins

April 9 - Happy birthday Carl Perkins.

Perkins was one of the earliest, best and most successful in the style known as rockabilly. That makes him one of rock's founding fathers, people. He hung with dudes like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. He scored a massive hit with his song "Blue Suede Shoes," selling more and charting higher than Elvis's later version. I know it might sound quaint and tame today, but you have to listen and imagine, in the bland pop culture of the 1950's, how electrifying it was to hear something like this for the first time. Elvis may have been the superstar celebrity, but Perkins was a genuine musician who influenced and inspired the likes of The Beatles, Eric Clapton and need I say, Brian Setzer. So give some props to an essential early rock icon.

Here's a cool 3-minute mini-documentary on Carl Perkins, with some discussion of his classic song, "Honey Don't."

Blue Suede Shoes, Rock Around The Clock, Roll Over Beethoven - these and other early rock and roll classics had a huge influence on those who followed, and opened the floodgates for generations to express their creativity, their rebellion, the sheer power of youth. Musicians I love, like Clapton, Hendrix and the Beatles, were not shy about paying tribute to their early rock and roll heroes, while at the same time boldly pushing the music forward in new and unexpected directions. For example:

Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, "Jailhouse Rock," 1969:

and Jimi Hendrix's incendiary live version of "Johnny B. Goode," 1970:

Rock and roll, everybody.

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