Al Perkins (born January 18, 1944) is a Texas-born American guitarist. Known primarily for his steel guitar work. The Gibson guitar company called Perkins "the world's most influential dobro player", and even began producing an "Al Perkins Signature" Dobro in 2001 - designed and autographed by Perkins.
Al Perkins was born and raised in Texas and learned to play Hawaiian steel guitar at the age of 9. In the 1950s Perkins was considered a child prodigy, playing with regional country and western bands, appearing on TV/radio, and winning several talent contests. In the early 1960s, Perkins began playing electric guitar with west Texas rock bands, and was discovered by Mickey Jones & Kenny Rogers of The First Edition. By 1968, he enlisted into the Army National Guard and was discharged from the US Army Reserves in 1972.
In 1970, Perkins joined the east Texas country rock band, Shiloh, and moved to California. The band included Don Henley and future producer/record executive Jim Ed Norman. Perkins was then hired to play in the new incarnation of the Flying Burrito Brothers and recorded the live album The Last of the Red Hot Burritos in 1972. Perkins, along with former ByrdChris Hillman went on to join Manassas. Led by Stephen Stills, Manassas incorporated Latin jams, rock, blues, country, folk, and bluegrass influences.
With Stills working with Crosby Stills and Nash, Perkins and Hillman joined Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield and Poco founding member) and J.D. Souther in the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Perkins moved into record production in the mid-1970s, but did tour again with Michael Nesmith and McGuinn & Hillman. As a session player, Perkins contributed to many notable albums, including the Eagles' On The Border.
Continuing his production work into the 1980s, Perkins also toured with Chris Hillman as a duo which later developed into the Desert Rose Band, before joining Dolly Parton in 1986, touring and recording with her for several years before moving to Nashville.
In Nashville Perkins reunited with Emmylou Harris on a new project, The Nash Ramblers, having previously worked with Emmylou and playing on the two solo albums recorded by Gram Parsons. (It was his association with Parsons that led to Perkins being called in to play on the sessions for the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street ). The Live at the Ryman album was to win Perkins his first Grammy award in 1992.
Al Perkins continues to tour and record. To date, other artists Al Perkins has played for are: James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam, Dan Fogelberg, Joe Walsh, Mike Love, Solomon Burke, Patty Loveless, Cher, Rita Coolidge, Iris DeMent, Michael Martin Murphey, Buddy Miller, & Jim Lauderdale.
In 2002 Perkins released a collection of studio outtakes and rare recordings. Snapshots features recordings by the Nash Ramblers and the Flying Burrito Brothers among others. Triple Play was Perkins' first solo album of his own music, released in 2003, revealing blues, country, bluegrass gospel and Cajun influences.
Perkins appeared on stage alongside James Burton and Keith Richards at the Gram Parsons tribute show in California in the summer of 2004.
In 2009, Perkins formed Big Dog 3, a trio with bassist Chris Donohue and drummer Brady Blade. Big Dog 3's self-titled debut album features guests such as Jim Lauderdale and Emmylou Harris. Today Al Perkins performs with The HiPower Band, which includes vocalist Kristine Arnold (Sweethearts of the Rodeo).
1997 - Producer on Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album,
1992 - Best Country Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal,
1991 - Best Bluegrass Album,
2015 - Induction to the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame (Manassas),
2007 - 'Musician of the Year' Texas Music Awards,
1997 - Induction to The Texas Steel Guitar HALL OF FAME,
1993 - Induction to Opryland's STARWALK,
1985 - Indie Award for album production on Desert Rose
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