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Carl Perkins: The King of Rockabilly

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Release Date:

Nov 2024

The definitive biography of the musical trailblazer who launched the rockabilly craze with his classic “Blue Suede Shoes,” was the influence behind countless other legendary hits, and who became a rock and roll legend in his own right, the original rockabilly cat—Carl Perkins.

He was the King of Rockabilly, and one of rock and roll’s true pioneers. A groundbreaking guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Carl Perkins inspired countless musicians in country, rock, and pop music. His influence is enormous. As Paul McCartney said, “If there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles.” One Beatle was such a fan that he gave himself the stage name Carl Harrison. Now acclaimed music writer Jeff Apter recounts Carl Perkins’s remarkable life story, the triumphs, tragedies, and career highlights that include some of the most pivotal moments in music history.

Born in Tennessee to poor sharecroppers, Carl grew up listening to gospel and country music, learned blues guitar from a fellow field hand, and started writing songs at age fourteen. He plied his trade in rough and rowdy honky-tonks performing with his brothers before beginning his recording career at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis. It was there that Carl became a member of the fabled “Million Dollar Quartet,” alongside Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1955 he wrote and recorded “Blue Suede Shoes,” the first record by a Sun artist to sell over a million copies. But then a fateful car crash stalled his career, one of many tragedies in Carl’s life.

Over the following decades, Presley, Cash, and countless other artists from The Beatles, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix performed and recorded his songs and became Carl’s friends, collaborators, and champions. Rich with insider detail and background into Carl’s private battles, humanitarian work, and personal inspirations, this is a fascinating, in-depth look at “Mr. Blue Suede Shoes” and his one-of-a-kind legacy.