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Jan. 8: Today’s the birthday of a guy who came to prominence on Sun Records, who performed at schoolhouses, armories and dives across the Mid-South in the mid-’50s, whose influential sound blanketed the Southwest from the stage of the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

Elvis? Well, yes. But I’m actually talking about Luther Perkins, the “boom-chicka-boom” guitarist who helped invent  Johnny Cash’s unique sound as part of the Tennessee Two. So much so that big John wrote this song, recorded it in July 1955 and took it to the Top 10 on Billboard’s country chart when Sun released it 3 1/2 years later. By then, Cash had moved on to Columbia Records, and the Tennessee Two was the Tennessee Three. But Luther Perkins continued to “play the boogie, in the strangest kind of way.”

He died in 1968, when he fell asleep while smoking and his house caught fire.   Learn more about him and that simple but oh-so-effective guitar style here.

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