Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!

Pinetop PerkinsBlues Foundation Honors Pinetop Perkins With Lifetime Achievement Award At 26th W.C. Handy Blues Awards - Ike Turner Among 2005 Hall of Fame Inductees

Memphis, TN – The Blues Foundation honor Pinetop Perkins with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 26th W.C. Handy Blues Awards being held May 5th at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The night before the Handy Awards, at the Foundation's Charter Members’ Dinner, The Blues Foundation will pay tribute to Ike Turner and the other esteemed individuals and recordings that have been selected for induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has not been presented for the last three years, and is being re-established as the Foundation’s way of honoring blues musicians who have received multiple W.C. Handy Blues Awards. Until he voluntarily withdrew from the nomination process in 2004, voters had selected Perkins for every Handy award in the piano category except for the initial one that went to Charles Brown in 1991. After 12 consecutive Handy Awards, Perkins advised The Blues Foundation that it was time to give someone else a chance. He remains eligible in other categories as exemplified by this year’s nominations in Traditional Male Artist of the Year and Traditional Blues Album of the Year. Perkins was honored earlier this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Recording Academy. He is slated to perform at the Handy awards.

Perkins joins an impressive group of Lifetime Achievement Award recipients including Jerry Wexler (1995); John Lee Hooker (1996); B.B. King (1997); Ahmet Ertegun and Bobby “Blue” Bland (1998); Koko Taylor, Etta James and Ruth Brown (1999); and Ray Charles in 2000. In 2002, during the 23rd W.C. Handy Blues Awards show, the legendary Sam Phillips was the last person honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pinetop Perkins is one of the last great Mississippi bluesmen still performing. He has been playing the blues since 1926 and is widely regarded as one of the best blues pianists, creating a style of playing that has influenced three generations of piano players.

In addition to Ike Turner, the other 2005 Hall of Fame inductees are: Walter Davis and H.C. Speir; the 1951 single Black Night by Charles Brown and the 1982 album Down Home by Z.Z. Hill on Malaco Records; and the groundbreaking book Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka).

The presenting sponsors for the 26th W.C. Handy Blues Awards are Gibson Guitar and Baldwin Piano. The Blues Hall of Fame Induction is sponsored by Blues Revue magazine, BluesWax weekly e-zine and Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony BMG.

The Blues Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Blues history, celebrating Blues excellence and supporting Blues education. It is the umbrella organization for a worldwide network of 135 affiliated blues societies and has individual members around the globe. In addition to the W.C. Handy Blues Awards, the Foundation produces the Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, International Blues Challenge and the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards. For more information or to purchase tickets to the W.C. Handy Blues Awards, contact Jay Sieleman, Director of Administration at (901) 527-2583 or jay@blues.org. For up-to-date information, visit www.blues.org.

Pinetop Perkins – Biography

Born Willie Perkins, in Belzoni, MS, in 1913, Pinetop started playing guitar at house parties and honkytonks, and switched to piano after sustaining a serious injury that made picking a guitar painful. He came under the tutelage of Clarence “Pinetop” Smith, for whom he composed the song entitled “Pinetop’s Boogie” that became a hit and, indeed, one of the more popular tunes from the boogie-woogie era. Perkins started performing the tune himself, and out of admiration for his mentor, started using the name “Pinetop.”

With the exception of recent successes perhaps, Pinetop is best known for holding down the piano chair in the great Muddy Waters Band for twelve years during the pinnacle of Muddy’s career. Replacing the late, great Otis Spann in 1969, Pinetop helped shape the Waters’ sound and anchored Muddy’s memorable combo throughout the seventies with his brilliant piano solos. In 1980, Pinetop and other Waters’ alumni decided to go out on their own and formed the Legendary Blues Band. Legendary recorded two records for Rounder and toured extensively.

Pinetop, who had been labeled a sideman throughout most of his career, then began to concentrate on a solo career. Within two years, he had his first domestic record as a frontman and an impressive touring schedule. Since going solo, Pinetop has been featured on many nationally syndicated news and music shows, also appearing in numerous movie productions, television and radio ads. He has also headlined nearly every major showcase room in North America and most of the major festivals here and abroad.

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees 2005

Ike TurnerPerformer: Ike Turner

Though more widely known for his exploits in the worlds of rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Ike Turner has played an important role in blues history. His first recording session at Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis produced what is often called the first rock ‘n’ roll record – Rocket “88,” sung by Ike’s saxophonist Jackie Brenston – but the song was actually a rocking Delta version of early ‘50s jump blues. Izear Luster Turner Jr. learned piano from Pinetop Perkins in his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he was born on November 5, 1931. As a talent scout, producer, pianist, or guitarist, Ike participated in some of the earliest recordings of Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Little Milton, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, B.B. King, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy. After Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band moved to East St. Louis, he formed one of the tightest R&B revues in the business, first with male vocalists such as Brenston, Billy Gayles, and Clayton Love, and later with a young singer named Annie Mae Bullock. Ike renamed her Tina, and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll and Hollywood history. Ike has re-embraced his blues roots in many of his recent performances and recordings. Turner’s 2001 album, Here and Now, which was nominated for a Grammy as Best Traditional Blues Album and took Handy Award honors for Comeback Album of the Year. Ike continues to perform around the world. He now lives in California.

Performer: Walter Davis

One of the most popular and prolific blues recording artists of the 1930s, Walter Davis was born in Grenada, Mississippi, on March 1, 1912. He became a leading figure on the St. Louis blues scene, working alongside Roosevelt Sykes and Henry Townsend. Sykes was on the pianist on Davis’ early recordings; subsequent sessions featured Davis’ own idiosyncratic brand of piano. Although Walter Davis is not a name well known among today’s blues audiences, his songs of trouble and despair, as well as his double entendre humor, struck a resounding chord with blues buyers of the era: from 1930 to 1941, he recorded more than 160 sides, released on the Victor, Bluebird, Supertone, and Montgomery Ward labels. Davis recorded again for RCA Victor and Bullet from 1946 to 1952. Among Davis’ notable recordings were Come Back Baby (a Top 10 R&B hit in 1955 when covered by Ray Charles), Angel Child (Top 10 in 1949 for Memphis Slim), 13 Highway (later recorded by Muddy Waters), Think You Need a Shot, Pet Cream Blues, Ashes in My Whiskey, Fallin’ Rain, and Tears Came Rolling Down; his songs and lyrics have also been reworked or adapted by B.B. King, J.B. Hutto, Fred McDowell, Jimmy
McCracklin, Eddie Boyd, Champion Jack Dupree, Dave Ray & Tony Glover, and others. In his final years, Davis became a preacher in St. Louis. He died on October 22, 1963.

Non-Performer: H.C. Speir

Henry C. Speir, a music store owner in Jackson, Mississippi, was responsible for launching the recording careers of most of the greatest Mississippi bluesmen in the 1920s and ‘30s. In the job he referred to as “talent broker,” he sent Charley Patton, Skip James, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey, Bo Carter, the Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Joe Reynolds, Blind Roosevelt Graves, Geeshie Wiley, and Robert Wilkins, among others, on their way to record for companies such as Paramount, Victor, Decca, OKeh, and Vocalion. By way of referral, Speir’s activities also led to the first recordings of Son House, Willie Brown, and Robert Johnson. Speir supervised a number of sessions himself and attended many others in Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, and elsewhere. Sometimes Speir traveled hundreds of miles in search of talent; at other times blues singers would line up to audition at his store on Farish Street, as depicted in the recent Martin Scorsese blues series. Speir, who was born in Prospect, Mississippi, on October 6, 1895, died in Jackson in 1972.

Classics of Blues Literature: Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)

Blues People: Negro Music in White America by LeRoi Jones, first published in 1963 by William Morrow, was the first book on blues written by an African-American critic. Jones, who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka, is a poet, author, novelist, playwright, political activist, and pioneer of the Black Arts Movement. Born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 7, 1934, Baraka attended Howard University and joined the Air Force before becoming a beat poet on the Greenwich Village scene. In Blues People, Baraka wrote: “The path the slave took to ‘citizenship’ is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen's music -- through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz.” Baraka later related his poetry to blues: “I never came into the world thinking that poetry and music were divorced. I always thought that they should be together. Why did I think
that? From the blues, that’s where I took my thing from, the blues. I always liked that. Larry Darnell. The old talking blues, I loved that. Lightning Hopkins. Charles Brown. That’s where I was coming from.” Baraka retired from a teaching position at the State University of New York-Stony Brook in 1999 but continues to write and work for social change. He and his wife, poet Amina Baraka, live in Newark.

Classics of Blues Recording (Singles/Album Tracks): Black Night, by Charles Brown (Aladdin Records, 1951)

Black Night, the mournful minor-key blues masterpiece of West Coast blues balladeer Charles Brown, stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues charts for 14 weeks in 1951. No record since then has stayed atop the charts longer. Written by Jessie Mae Robinson, Black Night was recorded in Los Angeles on December 21, 1950, for Aladdin Records. The song has since been recorded by Bobby Bland, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, and Muddy Waters, among many others. This is the second Charles Brown recording to be honored by the Blues Hall of Fame. Drifting Blues was selected in 1989. Charles Brown, who died on January 21, 1999, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Classics of Blues Recording (Albums): Down Home, by Z.Z. Hill (Malaco Records, 1982)

Down Home was a historic breakthrough album for Z.Z. Hill, Malaco Records, and the whole blues genre, setting a record by staying on the Billboard charts for almost two years after its release in 1982. The album has been credited with reviving the blues among African-American listeners and it paved the way for Malaco to become the leading company in the soul/blues field. Its success also cemented the legendary status of Dave Clark, the veteran promotion man who got it played on so many radio stations at a time when airplay for blues records was at a low ebb. The track Down Home Blues, a composition by George Jackson (the same man who penned Old Time Rock & Roll), became an instant standard in the repertoires of countless blues, soul, and even rock bands. Z.Z. Hill, a journeyman singer from Dallas who had toiled for years on the chittlin’ circuit, unfortunately had little time to enjoy his sudden and unexpected stardom. He died of a heart attack on April 27, 1984, at the age of 48.

-- back to top --

 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy