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Rock Legend Carl Perkins Dead At Age 65

January 20, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Rockabilly legend Carl Perkins died Monday morning from complications brought on by three strokes he suffered late last year.

Perkins, hailed as one of the founders of rock 'n' roll, originally wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" and sold two million copies of the song before Elvis Presley recorded it. Perkins, born in rural Tennessee in 1932, had a unique style of guitar playing that eventually influenced everyone from Elvis to the Beatles and Eric Clapton.

Perkins learned how to play guitar from a black sharecropper with whom he worked in the fields when he was a teenager. He combined the rhythmic sound of Southern black blues with hillbilly music to create what would soon be dubbed rockabilly. It was after hearing Presley on the radio in 1954 that Perkins knew he could find a home for his music at Sun Records in Memphis. Four months later, his first single was released.

Perkins died at 10:30 Monday morning at Jackson-County General Hospital. He was 65.

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