"Walk the Line"

           Nov. 19, 2005 - Went to see "Walk the Line" tonight with Mrs. Uncle Bill. Impressed by it overall. Some minor glitches and "could have been betters" but over-all, a damn good representation of J. R. Cash's life. The music by the way is great.
           However I was very glad at the way Luther Perkins was portrayed. The actor who played him was brilliant. He even looked like Perkins. But there was one part of the movie that made Uncle Bill say out loud, "Yes-indeed." It was near the end of the movie where Cash was performing in a theatre venue. Perkins who had been playing Fender Telecasters to that point was on stage with a white Fender Jazzmaster and what appeared to be from a distance a Fender brown fabric amplifier. I yelled so loud that Mrs. Uncle Bill slugged me. Only second time today...
           The reason for my exuberance was that many moons ago I met Perkins and he had a brand new white Fender Jazzmaster with a Fender Pro Amp. I wrote about it a couple of years ago and posted it to this list.
           Below is that original post. If you remember it, then you'll know that Uncle Bill wasn't dreaming the whole thing. That stuff didn't happen until 1969. See below. Brings back a great memory:

One of the nicest people I ever met was Luther Perkins...
Back in 1959 or 60, I get confused these days; I was stationed in West Germany in the Air Force at a small base near Wurtzburg. I had managed to put together a band called the "Klicks," made up of two Air Force and two Army guys. We were the only all Rock & Roll G.I. bands around and played most of the enlisted/NCO clubs within reasonable driving distance. Most other G.I. bands were country with a little R&R thrown in.
           We had played at the Sweinfurt NCO club several times. It was a plush club that had a stage that rolled out from a wall when they had USO shows or name acts came in.
           We had played the night the DeCastro sisters were there. You might remember that they had a hit called "Teach Me Tonight." We did two sets, cleared the stage and they did their show. We set up again and closed the club. It went so well that we were booked to play the night Johnny Cash was to be there. I was really excited. I had collected all of Cash's SUN releases before I shipped out and loved the plain but haunting guitar riffs of Luther Perkins. The night of Cash's appearance, the club was jammed. They were turning away people at the door. Officers were even trying to muscle their way in. We did our two sets real well and cleared the stage. We had grabbed a table near the right side of the stage so we could see real well.
           Cash came in the front door. Wearing all black, he went quickly to the dressing rooms behind the stage without looking at or acknowledging a soul. His band made up of an upright bass player, a drummer with only a snare drum and a hi-hat, and Perkins who was playing the first Fender Jazzmaster I had ever seen. It was white with a tortoise shell pick guard. He also had a new brown Fender "Pro" Amp with a Lansing D-130 speaker. This was not the stock speaker for that amp. The Lansing speaker could be recognized by its silver or metallic speaker cone that could be seen through the grill cloth. It was a powerful speaker that had a clear crisp, almost snapping sound for guitars. Cash was introduced, went directly to the stage and began the set. It was astonishing how tight they were. Cash had a D-sized Martin and when they went to a guitar break, he would hold it up to the house mic and play rhythm. What a sound. And all the time Perkins never missed a lick.
           In his act there was a lot of comedy. While Cash would play and act like he was enjoying the music, he would look over at Luther, who was absolutely deadpan. Cash would roll his eyes and try to make Luther Smile. Luther would just stare at him. The crowd would crack up.
           One time Cash pulled out a big hair comb and said "I got an estimate on a hair cut the other day." A line I used several times later on. Then he dropped the comb. The bass player pulled out a blank pistol and shot the comb. Cash and Perkins jumped off the stage and the drummer fell off his stool. They were all starring at the comb. A great skit.
           After Cash had left the stage, we were waiting from them to clear so we could set up again. I introduced myself to Luther and told him how much I admired him. I grilled him on his equipment and he let me play the Jazzmaster. It was all new. He had the Lansing speaker put in the Amp at the Fender factory. He liked the snap that it had when he muffled the strings. He was great, talked like we were old friends. He and the bass player stayed around for our first two songs, gave me a wave and left. I never forgot him. Johnny Cash left quickly after his set without saying a word to anyone as near as I could tell. I think it was the beginning of his dope days ... When I came back to the states, the first thing I did was to rid myself out the small amp I had and ordered a Fender Pro-amp. I also traded in the stock 15" speaker for a Lansing D-130 which I used until I switched to bass. It can be seen both front and back in the "Rollerland" pictures on my Rockabilly Hall site.
           I've read a lot about Perkins and his playing ability, and how he had to memorize everything he did. I don't believe that crap; I think Luther Perkins was a better musician than he's given credit for.
           He died too young, he was a nice guy. For a few minute in Germany he made a teenager far away from home feel like he had made a new friend.
Uncle Bill
Change nothing Luther: in NY

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