Carl Perkins, Rockabilly Pioneer

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We continue our tribute to Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records who died Wednesday at the age of 80.

Carl Perkins was one of the performers Phillips discovered and recorded in the 1950s. Perkins wrote "Blue Suede Shoes," the hit song sung by Elvis Presley which became the first Sun label record to sell over a million copies. He also wrote the songs, "Matchbox," "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," which have been recorded by the Beatles. Perkins is the pioneer of a style of music called rockabilly.

Perkins, born in Tennessee, learned to play guitar from his uncle and formed a band with his two brothers before touring the South with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. It was Cash who gave Perkins the idea for the song, "Blue Suede Shoes." Perkins wrote the book, Go, Cat, Go! about his career.

This interview first aired October 29, 1996.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.