08: Carl Perkins – Dixie Fried

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

In the book, I recall one incredible day in Memphis, in 1987, in which – in the morning – I visited Sun Studios before stumbling accidentally into the Lorraine Motel, where Dr Martin Luther King was shot dead in 1968. In the afternoon, after calling lots of people named Carr in the Memphis phone book, I tracked down and interviewed the greatest southern soul singer of them all, presumed lost for years, and then largely forgotten – the mighty James Carr. If that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, after talking to James in the bar of my Memphis Airport hotel… Well, now read on…

I was making my way across the foyer when I noticed a poster by the reception desk, advertising a concert in the hotel’s ballroom. This was turning into some kind of stop-over. Playing that same night, and just a ride down in the lift, three floors from my room, was Carl Perkins and, opening for him, the black-voiced southern soul singer, Tony Joe White.

“Dixie Fried!” I yelled at Carl later that evening, although I didn’t need to shout. Standing alone, right at the front of the low stage, in a gig attended by me, a handful of lonely, out of town businessmen and huddle of airline cabin crew, I might have leaned over and whispered softly my request to the rock & roll originator.

Carl had not, I was thrilled to discover, slipped like so many of his generation into a supper club self-tribute cabaret routine. Fronting a tough little band, he was belting out no-frills rock & roll, without concession to showbiz embellishment. Which probably explained why the place was empty.

“You got it!” he said. And fired off, without a pause, the rabble-rousing, jumping guitar intro.

I caught the lift to my room an hour later, still buzzing on the events of an extraordinary day, and with Carl Perkins having serenaded me personally into insomnia.

“’Rave on, children, I’m with ya! Rave on, cats,’ he cried. ‘It’s almost dawn and the cops are gone, let’s all get Dixie fried!’”

I fell on my bed and wrote up an account of the whole mad day in a letter to Peel. In it, I’m sure I echoed what the incomparable James Carr screams, just before going over the precipice in That’s The Way Love Turned Out For Me: “Say it one more time for Memphis, Tennessee!”

Click on the link, below, for the man himself, on US television (The Tex Ritter Show) in 1957.

Click on the BUY THE BOOK link up there on the top menu bar to get the book, for just £6.29. Treat yourself. Now, 169 five-star reviews on Amazon.

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