From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Born:||January 8, 1928
|Died:||August 5, 1968
Luther Perkins was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 8, 1928. His family soon moved to Como, Mississippi, where Perkins grew up. Once reaching adulthood, Perkins returned to Memphis and worked as an auto mechanic. He met two men at work that would radically change his life; Marshall Grant and Roy Cash.
In 1954, Roy Cash's brother, John Cash, arrived in Memphis and was introduced to Perkins and Grant. As it turned out, all three of them enjoyed playing guitar, so they decided to get together and pick a bit. Grant and John Cash convinced Perkins to buy an upright bass from a store. Luther also went to that same store and bought a used Fender Esquire and amplifier. The sound of the trio came together quickly. The Trio approached Sam Phillips of Sun Records with gospel songs (which proved useless) and some original Cash numbers (which proved useful) and were signed to the Sun label late in the year. The Tennessee Two (and later, The Tennessee Three), toured much of the nation and hit national stardom. The hypnotic Boom-Chicka-Boom sound never changed over the years, only got tighter, thanks in part to drummer W.S. Holland.
Perkins was known for his characteristics onstage, or lack thereof. He would stand straight up, bolted to the floor, as if paralyzed. He plucked each note on his guitar slowly and deliberately, looking to Cash as if he expected approval for each chord and riff.
In 1968, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three recorded a live album along with The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, and guitarist/Sun artist Carl Perkins (no relation to Luther), at Folsom Prison. Luther Perkins' style of guitar playing is much more prominent in this record than almost any other known recording of the man due to the fact that it was live and the guitar was kept at one volume. Also, it was the last known recording of Luther Perkins.
Shortly after The Folsom Prison Concert, Perkins died in Nashville, Tennessee in the summer of 1968, as a result of injuries received in a house fire. The fire was apparently caused by his falling asleep while smoking.
The cause of Perkins' death is alluded to in the 2005 film Walk the Line: on a late night bus ride to a performance, Cash passes Perkins asleep with a lit cigarette in his mouth and puts it out.
Also in the film "Walk the Line" he is seen playing a Fender Telecaster. This is inaccurate, for Perkins never used a Telecaster, but an Esquire(The two guitars are similar). He owned four Esquires (one of which had it's volume knob stuck on 'Full'), along with a pair of Jaguars, as well as a Jazzmaster.