RCA Victor no. 22-0099
After Rufus left home, Willie began banging on that old piano as he had seen his older brother do. By 1930 Willie was playing with other Georgia bluesmen such as Barbecue Bob and Curley Weaver at house parties and juke joints around Atlanta. Willie added some pop standards to his repertoire and by the mid 1930s he was playing for white audiences in the resort town of Brevard, North Carolina. In the mid-‘30s, he teamed up with Blind Willie McTell and the pair made their first recordings for the Vocolion label in Augusta, but the records were never released. While working with McTell, Willie Perryman began to bill himself as “Piano Red.”
Music was never his only means of support. Willie worked as an upholsterer during the week and played the piano on weekends. After parting ways with McTell, Piano Red performed at clubs on weekends and upholstering during the week. In 1950 he recorded his first solo outing for RCA Victor at the radio studios of WGST in Atlanta. That first record changed Piano Red’s life. The song’s he recorded that day were released by RCA Victor and almost instantly starting climbing the charts. It is rare enough for an artist to record a song that becomes a hit, but Piano Red struck gold with his very first release. And not just one song, but both songs on that first record, “Rockin’ with Red” and “Red’s Boogie” were National successes.
As I have mentioned earlier this week, our good friend Walt brought another stack of 78s from Cousin Wes’ outstanding collection to share with the riders on the Bus. I have been carefully transferring them to audio files all week. Tonight as I slipped the record from its jacket I was elated to find that first Piano Red recording, RCA Victor no. 22-0099.
Y’all have a good weekend!