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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Belzoni in Humphreys County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Pinetop Perkins

 
 
Pinetop Perkins Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
1. Pinetop Perkins Marker (Front)
Inscription.
Front
Blues piano master Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins was born on July 7, 1913, on the Honey Island Plantation, seven miles southeast of Belzoni. Perkins spent much of his career accompanying blues icons such as Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 and Muddy Waters. After he began to tour and record as a featured singer and soloist in the 1980s, Perkins earned a devoted following among enthusiasts who hailed him as the venerated elder statesman of blues piano.

Rear
Pinetop Perkins did not have an album under his own name in the United States until he was seventy-five years old (in 1988), but during the next two decades he recorded more than fifteen LPs and CDs as the reigning patriarch of blues piano. Perkins started out on guitar, but he also learned piano as a youngster, influenced by local pianists and by the records of Clarence “Pine Top” Smith and others. Smith’s “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” of 1929 was so popular that many pianists, including Perkins, took up boogie woogie and sometimes even adopted the name “Pine Top,” or “Pinetop.”

Perkins spent much of his childhood moving around the Delta, living with his mother or other relatives, or with his friend, guitarist Boyd Gilmore, on a plantation with Gilmore’s grandparents.
Pinetop Perkins Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
2. Pinetop Perkins Marker (Rear)
Perkins picked cotton, worked as handyman, mechanic, and truck driver, and began playing at juke joints, house parties, and cockfights. His first professional job in music was as a guitarist with blues legend Robert Nighthawk. In the 1940s Perkins played piano on radio broadcasts with Nighthawk and with Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 (Rice Miller) on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. When a woman stabbed him in Helena, the injury forced him to give up the guitar, although he was already becoming better known as a pianist. Perkins also drove a tractor on the Hopson plantation near Clarksdale. In Clarksdale he later mentored a young Ike Turner on piano and began working with another prodigy, guitarist Earl Hooker.

Perkins first recorded as pianist on a Nighthawk session in Chicago in 1950. In 1953 Perkins recorded two versions of “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” when he, Boyd Gilmore, and Earl Hooker did a session together for Sam Phillips’s Sun label in Memphis. Pinetop continued to play with Nighthawk, Hooker, and others at different times and also worked at a laundry and a garage. In 1969, when Otis Spann–another noted pianist with Belzoni roots–left the Muddy Waters band, Waters called on Perkins to take his place. International touring and recording with Muddy brought him widespread recognition, and he made his first album in 1976 for a French label. In 1980
Pinetop Perkins Marker photos image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
3. Pinetop Perkins Marker photos
** Click picture for more detail **
Perkins and other band members left Muddy and formed the Legendary Blues Band. After recording two albums with the unit, Perkins embarked on his belated solo career.

In addition to Perkins and Spann, other blues artists who were born in on near Belzoni or who lived here include Denise LaSalle, Boyd Gilmore, Eddie Burns, Paul “Wine” Jones, Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2, and Elmore James.
 
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Department Archives and History. (Marker Number 38.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 33° 11.702′ N, 90° 30.299′ W. Marker is near Belzoni, Mississippi, in Humphreys County. Marker is on U.S. 49W one mile north of State Route 7, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 17150 Highway 49, Belzoni MS 39038, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Reverend George Lee (approx. 1.2 miles away); Turner's Drug Store (approx. 1.5 miles away); Denise LaSalle (approx. 1.6 miles away); Hank Cochran (approx. 6.2 miles away); Little Milton Campbell (approx. 12.1 miles away); Inverness (approx. 12.1 miles away).
 
Also see . . .
Rev. George Lee Museum & Fannie Lee Hamer Civil Rights Museum image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
4. Rev. George Lee Museum & Fannie Lee Hamer Civil Rights Museum

1. Pinetop Perkins Biography. (Submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
Mississippi Blues Trail Sign image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
5. Mississippi Blues Trail Sign
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 160 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on January 9, 2017.
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