Saturday, January 9, 2016

Piano Red - Rockin' With Red

Willie Perryman went by two nicknames during his lengthy career, both of them thoroughly apt. He was known as Piano Red because of his albino skin pigmentation for most of his performing life. But they called him Doctor Feelgood during the '60s, and that's precisely what his raucous, barrelhouse-styled vocals and piano were guaranteed to do: cure anyone's ills and make them feel good.
Like his older brother, Rufus Perryman, who performed and recorded as Speckled Red, Willie Perryman showed an aptitude for the 88s early in life. At age 12, he was banging on the ivories, influenced by Fats Waller but largely his own man. He rambled some with blues greats Barbecue Bob, Curley Weaver, and Blind Willie McTell during the 1930s (and recording with the latter in 1936), but mostly worked as a solo artist.
In 1950, Red's big break arrived when he signed with RCA Victor. His debut Victor offering, the typically rowdy "Rockin' with Red," was a huge R&B hit, peaking at number five on Billboard's charts. It's surfaced under a variety of guises since: Little Richard revived it as "She Knows How to Rock" in 1957 for Specialty, Jerry Lee Lewis aced it for Sun (unissued at the time), and pint-sized hillbilly dynamo Little Jimmy Dickens beat 'em both to the punch for Columbia.
"Red's Boogie," another pounding rocker from the pianist's first RCA date, also proved a huge smash, as did the rag-tinged "The Wrong Yo Yo" (later covered masterfully by Carl Perkins at Sun), "Just Right Bounce," and "Laying the Boogie" in 1951. Red became an Atlanta mainstay in the clubs and over the radio, recording prolifically for RCA through 1958 both there and in New York. There weren't any more hits, but that didn't stop the firm from producing a live LP by the pianist in 1956 at Atlanta's Magnolia Ballroom that throbbed with molten energy. Chet Atkins produced Red's final RCA date in Nashville in 1958, using Red's touring band for backup.
A 1959 single for Checker called "Get Up Mare" and eight tracks for the tiny Jax label preceded the rise of Red's new guise, Dr. Feelgood & the Interns, who debuted on Columbia's "Okeh" subsidiary in 1961 with a self-named rocker, "Doctor Feel-Good," that propelled the aging piano pounder into the pop charts for the first time. Its flipside, "Mister Moonlight" (penned and ostensibly sung by bandmember Roy Lee Johnson), found its way into the repertoire of the Beatles. A subsequent remake of "Right String but the Wrong Yo-Yo" also hit for the good doctor in 1962. The Doc remained with OKeh through 1966, recording with veteran Nashville saxist Boots Randolph in his band on five occasions.
Red remained ensconced at Muhlenbrink's Saloon in Atlanta from 1969 through 1979, sandwiching in extensive European tours along the way. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1984 and died the following year.

Back cover is autographed by Piano Red.



Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, xyros. This will be my piano Blues week, a special kind of trip to New Orleans, without leaving home.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you... I owe you about a couple hundred more too!
Thanks for sharing the great music!
May you soon be graced with an unexpected goldmine of vinyl!!
dcat, in the cornpatch... :-)

Generic Cialis said...

I love this kind of music because I can feel so relax.. my father learned me the habit of listen this kind of music since I was a little kid!

Zed said...

Thanks for the great blog. Could you please reup this? The link is dead.

Xyros said...

@ Zed, you're in luck as the original rip was incorrect. So you're getting a new rip with tage :-)

Dyna Mick said...

merci !!

juan manuel muñoz said...

thanks a lot

Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this. I had the LP back in the 1970s and played it to death. It's a great fun session. I already had an MP3 copy but at low bitrate, so d/l this to get it at 320. Was playing it this morning and remembering how good it is.

Xyros said...

@ Bob mac, Glad to help you out with a better bitrate and I agree that it is great fun to listen to Piano Red.