Luther Perkins

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Luther Monroe Perkins (born January 8, 1928 in Memphis (Tennessee) , † August 5, 1968 in Nashville ) was an American guitarist and member of Johnny Cash's band Tennessee Three .



Perkins worked as an auto mechanic in Memphis, Tennessee. In the evenings he played guitar in clubs; together with his friend, bassist Marshall Grant , they called themselves "Tennessee Two". The two met Johnny Cash , who was still unknown at the time, in 1955 and together with him received a record deal with the record label Sun Records .

Since Cash's band didn't have a drummer at the time, Cash slipped a piece of paper between the strings of his rhythm guitar to mimic the sound of a snare drum ; this percussive snarling was a characteristic element of the famous "boom-chicka-boom" sound. The name is an onomatopoeic description for the fast, pounding sound similar to that of a moving train. When WS Holland joined the two as drummer in 1960 , the band called itself " Tennessee Three ". Perkins started with an Esquire guitar (predecessor of the Telecaster model ) from the Fender brand . In 1959 he briefly switched to the newly released Jazzmaster , which he received personally from his friend Leo Fender (Perkins was one of Fender's favorite guitarists), but kept returning to Esquire, which he also played when recording the At Folsom Prison concert .


Perkins worked with Cash until he was killed in a house fire in 1968 at the age of 40. The fire department suspected that Perkins fell asleep with a cigarette lit; but this could never be determined beyond doubt. This fact was also taken up in the cinematic cash biography Walk the Line . During a night bus ride to a concert, Cash notices a glowing cigarette in the sleeping Perkins' mouth and puts it out.

Luther Perkins was buried in the "Memory Gardens" cemetery in Hendersonville, Tennessee , where Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were later interred.


Luther Perkins was honored in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for his contributions to the genre .


  1. ^ Rockabilly Hall of Fame Inductees