Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins

July 7, 1913 - March 21, 2011

The blues world lost perhaps its greatest pianist this week. Born July 7, 1913, Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins began performing in the 1920s and continued right up to his death on March 21, 2011. He recorded with Earl Hooker at Sun Studios in Memphis and spent 12 years playing piano with blues icon Muddy Waters. He released 15 CDs as a front-man over 15 years, starting in 1992, and experienced a peak in popularity in his eighth decade of performing.

Perkins won Piano Player of the Year at the Blues Music Awards so many times that the recognition now bears his name. He made history in 2011 as the oldest performer to win a Grammy when he and fellow Waters alumni Hubert Sumlin won Best Traditional Blues Album for their latest, Joined at the Hip.

'Pine Top was an inspiration,’ host Larry Groce says of the pianist’s three appearances on Mountain Stage. 'He last visited when he was 88 years old and he still had a twinkle in his eye, a chuckle in his voice and fingers that were right in the groove. Truly, an era has ended.’

Here is Perkins’ performance from 2001 with Bob Margolin on guitar, Tad Walters on bass and Wes Johnson on Drums:

Set List:

'Chicken Shack’

'How Long Has That Train Been Gone’

'Down in Mississippi’

'Ida Lee’

Source: NPR (National Public Radio)

Give this audio set a listen.  It’s worth the time and truly deserves a wide listenership.