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farewell pinetop perkins

March 22, 2011

Pinetop PerkinsPinetop Perkins passed away yesterday at his home in Austin. He was only four months shy of his 98th birthday. One of the last surviving great Mississippi bluesmen Perkins played piano with such legends as Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Eric Clapton. Just last month Perkins earned the distinction of being the oldest-ever Grammy winner for his latest album Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. The album took home Best Traditional Blues Album honors. In 2005 Perkins was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

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Muddy Waters with Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins with Muddy Waters in 1977

While the world has lost one of the last connections to the great tradition of Delta Blues, Austin has lost a local friend. I fondly remember one night last winter, just after I moved here, I wandered into a downtown blues bar to hear some music. Posted up near the front of the stage, it wasn’t until the band brought him up to sit in on a set that I realized I’d been in the company of a legend. Pinetop played frequently around town, and could be found holding court at Antone’s several nights a week. Just this past Saturday night he was there sitting in on Bobby Rush’s SXSW showcase set.

Tonight Antone’s will hold a blues jam in Pinetop’s honor, featuring many of the local artists who have played with him over the years.

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