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Pinetop Perkins

Clarksdale, MS 2000

Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins was born in 1913 in Belzoni, MS and learned barrelhouse piano style at age 10 from his stepfather, quickly surpassing him. Perkins also played guitar and planned on pursuing a career on that instrument, but the tendons in his left arm were injured in a knife fight with a chorus girl in Helena AR in the 1940’s. Now exclusively playing piano, Perkins took his nickname from 20’s piano legend “Pinetop” Smith, and began playing with Big Joe Williams, Willie Love, Robert Nighthawk, and eventually securing a spot on KFFA’s legendary King Biscuit Hour with Sonny Boy Williamson until 1948. But Perkin’s big break came in 1970 when he replaced Otis Spann in Muddy Water’s band, a gig that would last for twelve years through one of Muddy’s most powerful and prolific musical periods. Perkins lived until the age of 97, continuing his musical career right up till his death.

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Pinetop Perkins "Boogie Woogie"

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