Oldest GRAMMY Winner with Best Traditional
Blues Album Award (for last year’s acclaimed Joined at the Hip album) passes away at the
age of 97.
Legendary bluesman and master piano player Pinetop Perkins
died on Monday, March 21 at his home in Austin,
TX. Perkins was one of the true
originals. At age 97, he was one of the last blues musicians who could
legitimately claim direct roots in the Delta blues of the 1930s – a period that
spawned such giants as Robert Johnson, Honeyboy Edwards and other titans of the
of the deep South who laid the foundation for the blues as we know them today.
Born Willie Perkins in Belzoni,
Mississippi, in July 1913,
Perkins had compiled a resume that spanned nearly eighty years – as a guitarist
and a pianist, then moving over to exclusively piano. One of the obvious
highlights was his stint with Muddy Waters band for more than a decade. From
1969 through the early ‘80s, Perkins was an integral part of Muddy’s powerhouse
combo that dominated the urbanized, electrified post-World War II blues scene.
It was during these years that he forged an enduring friendship and prolific
creative bond with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, then the drummer in Muddy’s band.
The most recent chapter in this longstanding alliance was Joined
at the Hip, a collaborative project shared by Perkins and Smith that was
released last June on Telarc/Concord. The album is a mix of material written by
Smith, along with a few chestnuts from the annals of Delta and Chicago blues. In February. Perkins broke the
record of oldest Grammy winner when he snagged the GRAMMY® for best traditional
blues album for Joined at the Hip.
“We are truly saddened by Pinetop’s passing,” says Mark
Wexler, of Concord.
“This is a great loss for the music community. Pinetop was such a major
influence on today’s generation of blues musicians, and he remains an
inspiration to so many young players. All of us at the Concord Music Group are
grateful for his musical contributions.”
His manager, Patricia Morgan, said funeral arrangements were
pending in Austin and a graveside service would
be held near Clarksdale, MS, where he wanted to be buried.
The Pinetop Perkins Foundation is a tax exempt non-profit
organization. Its mission is to provide encouragement and support for youth and
young people at the beginning of their musical career; and help provide care
and safety for elderly musicians at the twilight of their career.
Donations can be made by check or through PayPal: http://www.pinetopperkinsfoundation.org/
[Photo Credit: Carl Lender, via Wikimedia Commons