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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pinetop Perkins RIP

Sad news, the great Pinetop Perkins has died.  Pinetop was one of the last of the Chicago Boogie Woogie piano players.  Below is an obit from Bob Corritore, but I did want to add one story of my own.  I was lucky to have met Pinetop one snowy night in Des Moines Iowa.   Pinetop was headlining a show at Connie's Lounge with the Soul Searchers.  Pinetop was late due to the storm, so I was fortunate enough to get a chance to play with the Soul Searchers while we waited for him to arrive.  Once he was got to the bar I was able to sit down next to him and talk awhile.  He was an amazingly nice old man, (probably in his late 70s then) and he complimented my piano playing, which he was probably just being nice, but it really meant a lot to me back then!  When Pinetop finally got warmed up he got up to the piano and blew the doors off the place.  That was the first time that I realized that bluemen only get better with age.  Unlike popular music, where you are washed up once past 30.  You are only getting started in the  blues when you hit 50.  The blues unlike any other medium honors its elder blues players with a reverence like no other.  Certainly older players get recognition in Jazz, and Country, but the blues still see you as a vital contributor to the music.  God bless you Pinetop and may you, Otis, Sunnyland, Memphis Slim, and Lafayette jam away for all eternity.

From Bob Corritore

March 21, 2011
  • RIP Pinetop Perkins July 7, 1915 to March 21, 2011. Nobody can live forever, but for a period of time in his long life of 97 years, the legendary Pinetop Perkins made us think it was possible. It is with tears that we say goodbye to one of the most loved and highly respected blues musicians of our time. Pinetop Perkins died today of heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas. We know that Pinetop led a rich and happy life, and that he understood the simple pleasures, which he enjoyed everyday. 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 choir-girl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Pinetop switched to the piano. He got his moniker from playing the popular "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie", a 1928 hit by pianist Pinetop Smith.Pinetop accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson II on the Helena based radio program King Biscuit Time on KFFA. He worked with Robert Nighthawk, accompanying him on the 1950 Aristocrat recording of "Jackson Town Gal". In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker's band and began touring, stopping to record "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" at Sam Phillips' studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Pinetop was a major influence on the young Ike Turner, whom he taught piano. Pinetop joined the Muddy Waters Band in 1969, replacingOtis Spann, and playing in the band for over a decade. It is from his time with Muddy that Pinetop became a well known name in the blues. Pinetop would leave Muddy's band with other band members to form The Legendary Blues Band before restarting his solo career. Along the way, Pinetop was helped by the confident direction provided by manager Patricia Morgan, who was a tireless and diplomatic advocate. Pinetop won three Grammy Awards, and so many Handy Awards that he gracefully took himself out of the running by changing the piano category award to his namesake. Though he rose to the highest of stature, Pinetop was always very accessible and appeared on numerous albums, and projects. He remained active, healthy and happy until the end, even with a daily habit of cigarettes, and McDonald's (double mac with cheese, medium sprite, and an apple pie). He spent his 97th birthday flying to Spain to play a blues festival, and this year he won his third Grammy for "Best Traditional Blues album" for Joined At The Hip, his collaboration with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on the Telarc label. We should also mention Barry Nowlin,Michael FreemanBob MargolinHugh Southard of Blue Mountain ArtistsOnnie HeaneyLittle Frank KrakowskiBob StrogerDiunna Greenleaf, and Pete Carlson for their support roles in Pinetop's life. We will miss Pinetop's distinctive voice and his elegant, interactive piano style. He has touched all of us with his charm, his talent, and his loving approach to life. Though we hate to say goodbye, we have to be thankful for the great joy that he brought us. God bless you Pinetop. To see some great photos of Pinetop Perkins click here, and here


    Pinetop Perkins obit correction and funeral information. Please note that in our Pinetop Perkins obituary we listed the wrong birth year. Pinetop was born in 1913, not 1915 as we mistakenly stated. Pinetop's funeral information is as follows:
    Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 3:00pm - 5:00pm
    Cook-Walden Funeral Home
    6100 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78752

    Funeral Service
    Monday, March 28, 2011 -  5:00pm
    Colonial Chapel of Cook-Walden Funeral Home
    6100 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78752
    Celebration of LifeMonday, March 28, 2011 - 8:00PM
    Antone's Blues Club
    213 W 5th St
    Austin, TX  78701
    Burial services will be on Saturday, April 2, 2011 in Clarksdale, MS.
    Details are still being finalized.

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