Laura Lee Perkins
The 88 Keys Rockabilly Gal is Back

March 25, 2006 - Have you heard the news, there's good rockin' tonight? Did you remember that song line who can applies to Laura Lee Perkins, the "Imperial" rockin' girl who's back in the studios. In February 2006, she had cut some great tunes as "A Little Tear", a nice ballad writes by herself, and a cooking sax blowing version of "Jambalaya". That reminds me the times when young's Brenda Lee, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin and Laura Lee were the queens of Rockabilly. So, if you like, let me tell you the story of that West Virginia kitty:

           Alice Faye Perkins was born on 20th July 1939 and soon she will learn by herself to play guitar and piano. At Stoco High School, she learnt also to play horn and, when she left school, she moved from West Virginia and go North to Cleveland (Ohio). She settled in the small town of Elyria, took a job and lived the usual life of a young girl. When cruising with friends, they stopped at WEOL radio, she find a piano to play. As the DJ, Jeff Baxter, was on the air, she played the 88 keys just for fun. The good ears of Jeff Baxter catch with her sound and he made her recording some demos at the radio station. The songs were "No one will ever Know" (Hank Williams song), "Oh La Baby" (written by herself), "Hound Dog" and "My Babe". Jeff made listen those demos to Bill Randle, the famous DJ who made first Elvis recordings cross the Maxon-Dixon line. Soon he asked to meet Alice, in Cleveland, at the Audio Recording Studio and made an audition but no other demos were cut. The first demos were sent to various labels and Sam Phillips (Sun records) and Lew Chudd (Imperial records) showed interest for her work. Being under age, with the agreement of her folks, she chose to join the "Imperial" label. Maybe she liked more the sunny California than Tennessee or, as she was a great fan of Ricky Nelson wanted to be on the same records team.
           Soon they changed her name for Laura Lee Perkins in order to make her "The female Jerry Lee Lewis", just as RCA wanted to do in 1956 when they billed Janis Martin as "The female Elvis". A first session was set up in Hollywood in February 1958. She made her first plane trip and, of course, she meets Ricky Nelson. Oh, what a dream!
           "Imperial" provided her some demos as "Come On Baby" written by Johnny Burnette in order to complete her own compositions as "Don't Wait Up" or "Oh La Baby". The recordings session was produced by Jimmie Haskell and she will backed on some tunes by James Burton and James Kirkland, Ricky Nelson backin' band. On some recordings she doesn't play piano and on others she does and overdub was added probably by guitar wizard Joe Maphis. The first coupling will be "I just don't like this kind of livin", a Hank Williams song, and "Kiss Me Baby" (Imperial X 5493). Both great Rockabilly songs with strong vocal and James Burton hot guitar but without piano. Few weeks later, "Imperial" came with a second single "Don' t Wait Up"/"Oh La Baby" with a more New-Orleans feeling including saxophone. For long that difference of sound lead collectors to think about various recordings sessions. No Šthere was only one set in three days in February 1958, overdubs were just added to explore a more R'n'B sound. Two song stayed in the vaults until they were issued in the early 80's on Detour label "Come on Baby"/"Gonna rock my baby tonight". All Laura Lee's records are much sought after collector items so don't miss then if you can catch them.
           Laura Lee will have small adverts in "Billboard" and "Cowboy Songs" and soon will be on shows with Paul Anka, The Everly Brothers or Frankie Avalon. In 1959, she will move to Detroit and will be on road as far as Canada before to wed in 1963.
           From them she will take care of her family and hang up her rockin' shoes. In the late 70's, her inclusion in the "Imperial Rockabillies" LP's issued in Europe by United Artists made her a legend. She was present in some bootleg LPs as the "Hot Boppin' Girls" set and then came the "Detour" single. European fans had the luck to see on stage Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin or Barbara Pittman in the early 80's but nothing about Laura Lee until something came on The Rockabilly Hall of Fame® site on Internet by Bob Timmers. We can never say enough THANKS to Bob's for bringing together fans and vintage performers through the web. In 2005, a paper was in print in a French fanzine named "Rock'n'Roll News" and contact was set with "Blue Suede News" magazine in the USA.
           Since yesterday Laura Lee Perkins made the colour cover of a great French magazine titled "Rock and Roll Revue" with a four pages paper and she was invited to perform in Paris (France). She's back in studio and will have a CD out soon. So, girls and guys, remember we are never too old to Rock!
           Let's enjoy the "one and only" Laura Lee's rockin' sound and here are some interesting contacts if you like:
           Laura Lee Perkins:
           Rock and Roll Revue:
           Rockabilly Hall of Fame:
           French musical site:

Dominique "Imperial" Anglares
Brest R'n'R Appreciation Society (France)

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