Go, cat, go!: the life and times of Carl Perkins, the king of rockabilly

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Hyperion, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 437 pages
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One of the last living pioneers of rock, Carl Perkins is best known as the man who wrote "Blue Suede Shoes, " the song that galvanized a generation of teenagers and redefined the honky-tonk music of his native South for the pop mainstream. Carl Perkins was born in a three-room shack in Lake County, Tennessee, the son of a sharecropper whose family worked the cotton fields. The stirring music of his black co-workers struck a responsive chord in the young Perkins, who learned to play guitar from a picker called Uncle John. Practicing to the music of the Grand Ole Opry on his father's radio, Carl realized that "country music needed the black man's rhythms." When he finally formed a band with his brothers, Jay and Clayton, the "Carl Perkins beat" was born. But it was after Carl heard a Bill Monroe song on the radio in an uptempo rendition by a young singer named Elvis Presley that he realized he had to light out for Memphis to make his name. At Sam Phillips's Sun Records, Carl and Elvis became friends, and were joined on the road by Johnny Cash and others for history-making tours of the South. Carl's rise from abject poverty to international stardom was compromised by tragedy when his brother Jay died of a brain tumor, and Carl began a long descent into alcoholism that undercut his career and threatened his marriage. A triumphant trip to England where the Beatles recorded the Perkins compositions "Matchbox, " "Honey, Don't, " and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" was followed by the suicide of his surviving brother, Clayton. Perkins's life alternated between musical success and misfortunes to rival the trials of Job, a star-crossed pattern that continued even after he achieved a hard-wonsobriety. Lessons learned in a life lived full measure gave him the strength to overcome in his own battle with cancer, and to carry on with songwriting and performing even in his darkest hours.

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Go, cat, go!: the life and times of Carl Perkins, the king of rockabilly

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A rock journalist for Rolling Stone and other publications, McGee based this "autobiography" of early rock'n'roller Carl Perkins on hundreds of hours of interviews with his subject. Beginning with ... Read full review


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