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Oldest to win Grammy award is dead at 97

One of the last of the original Mississippi Delta Blues musicians, pianist Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, died Monday at age 97 at his home in Austin, Texas, according to his Web site. Pinetop Perkins was known for an aggressive piano style and a gravelly voice. The LA Times article includes THIS YouTube video embedded in the story.

I personally love the piano of Pinetop Perkins on the Muddy Waters album, “Hard Again,” which I own. Pinetop joined the Muddy Waters’ band in 1969.

Perkins woke up with chest pains and died of cardiac arrest, according to Hugh Southard, his manager.

According to the detailed LA Times obituary, Perkins was born on a cotton plantation near Belzoni, Mississippi in 1913 and taught himself guitar at age 10 and piano a few years later. An angry woman cut him with a knife in 1942, mistakenly blaming him for an offense that her husband had committed, which ended his guitar career. In the 1940s, Pinetop Perkins accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson on the KFFA radio show broadcast, “King Biscuit Time.” He toured with Ike Turner in the 1950s.

In February of this year, Perkins won a Grammy for best traditional Blues album, “Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith,” making Pinetop Perkins the oldest person to win a Grammy. His two earlier Grammies were in 2007 for his work on “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas” and in 2005, his lifetime achievement award.

-Bill at

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