Red Perkins, nor related to the jazz trumpeter Red Perkins as with Carl Perkins, until today remains more or less a mystery within the country music since little is known about him. Not even a picture of him has ever surfaced. Nobody seems to know how he came to appear in 1947 on the country music scene, when he started as a singer for Paul Howard in its western swing band, the Arkansas Cotton Pickers to work. This group he belonged to until 1949, but Red at the same time also has his own career.
In May 1949, King let Perkins cut his first solo titles : « Aggravatin’ Lou from Louisville » and « Hoe-down boogie » (# 792) were the best of four tracks recorded. In November 1949, as well as in the course of 1950, followed other sessions,
We find him in on the amusing « Crocodile tears » (# 836) and « One at a time » (# 850). The titles of his last studio visit were published on Kings sublabel DeLuxe Records [ named Red Perkins and his Kentucky Redheads, perhaps Howard’s Cottonpickers in disguise]. In March 1950, Perkins played once again as a singer with Paul Howard and the band in the studio KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana for 4 more tracks, among them “The boogie’s fine tonight” (# 871)- great pounding piano from Harold Horner, and a good guitar from either Paul Howard himself or Jabbo Arrington.
Under Perkins’ recordings for King to songs like « A Long Necked Bottle »(# 920), « Hoe-Down Boogie » (# 792), « Rag man boogie » (# 903) or « Aggravating Lou from Louisville »(# 792) were, however, found none of his singles off the charts, not least was due to the poor marketing of the label. What Perkins did after that is uncertain.
All in all, a career that lasted not more than 2 years ; nearly not more than a dozen 78pm singles ; and a very few to remember as shufflers and good’uns.
“The boogie’s fine tonight”
“Aggravatin’ Lou from Louisville”
“Rag man boogie”
“I live the life I love”
Sources: a short biography Wikipedia (which is confusing with the pre-War Red Perkins on Champion) translated from German language. A discography on Praguefrank site: http://countrydiscography.blogspot.fr/2009/10/red-perkins.html. Internet for label scans. With help from Ronald Keppner (DeLuxe issue).
Additions : March 12th, 2017
Out of an email from Dan Tinsley (Red Perkins’ nephew), here are some precious details on Perkins’ life. All pictures do come from his Family.
His real name was WUSTER LAMONT NUNEMAKER.
Born Aug 3rd 1920 in Breathitt Co. Kentucky
Died Aug 15th 1990 Columbus Ohio
He lived in Fairborn Ohio & is buried there in the Byron cemetery. He also lived in Springfield Ohio for a long time & was there that he passed. He was also a WWII veteran.
He was employed with the railroad most of his life from the steam engine days to diesel power. Brakeman, fireman, & engineer etc.
Syd Nathan recorded Long Neck Bottle & Big Water Glass on his Audio Lab label (think that one was autobiographical). Uncle Red was a rounder & honky tonk hero. He was the first artist to cover Big Blue Diamonds in 1950 I think. Aside from Paul Howard, The Kentucky Redheads, he last performed with his band Red Perkins & the Southerners in the early 1950’s. It’s my belief that he went to Korea with the USO & entertained the troops during that war. There is a post card to my aunt from him at Christmas time he sent & was on Formosa with the band, also there is a Korea & Golden Gate bridge sticker on the guitar case I have.
He also did some local TV out of Dayton Ohio on WLW-D I can remember him singing Old Shep to me once after my dad shot my dog for biting my cousin.
I (bopping’s editor) will have to ask Mr. Tinsley some more details, that I will publish later in bopping.org.