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Blues legend Perkins dies, 97

[ 2011-03-23 10:53]     字号 [] [] []  
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Listen to one of Pinetop Perkins' top songs--Blues After Hours

In 1969 in Buffalo, New York, a wiry, middle-aged chain smoker sat in on piano during a jam session and earned a spot in the band of legendary bluesman Muddy Waters.

By then, Pinetop Perkins had already performed with the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson and slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk.

The old school bluesman with the aggressive keyboard style and gravelly voice had played the rickety bars among the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta and toured with rock pioneer Ike Turner in the 1950s.

"Muddy came by and heard him jamming, and he liked what he heard. The rest is history," said Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, who was a drummer in the band.

By the time he and Waters hooked up, Perkins was in his 50s and "had more energy than us younger folks did", Smith said.

That verve kept him playing the blues and collecting Grammy Awards until shortly before his death from cardiac arrest on Monday at his Austin, Texas, home. He was 97.

Perkins' skills came not from any sort of formal training but from an innate ability and love for a musical form that arose from the South's plantation system.

"I didn't get no schooling. I come up the hard way in the world," Perkins said in a 2009 interview.

Bob Corritore, a harmonica player who performed occasionally with Perkins and produced some of his work, said: "Pinetop could find the cracks and fill them in and be the glue and mortar of the whole band."

Fellow great bluesman B.B. King was saddened by the loss of his friend.

"He was one of the last great Mississippi Bluesmen. He had such a distinctive voice, and he sure could play the piano. He will be missed not only by me, but by lovers of music all over the world," King said in a statement.

Perkins won a Grammy in February for best traditional blues album for Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie 1 'Big Eyes' Smith. That win made Perkins the oldest Grammy winner, edging out the late comedian George Burns, who was 95 when he won in the spoken category for Gracie: A Love Story in 1990.

Perkins also won a 2007 Grammy for best traditional blues album for his collaboration on the "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas." He received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Blues legend Perkins dies, 97

About the broadcaster:

Blues legend Perkins dies, 97

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.