Miss.-born Pinetop Perkins’ oldest Grammy winner

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Add another title for bluesman Pinetop Perkins: oldest Grammy winner.

Perkins, 97, snagged a statue Sunday for best traditional blues album for “Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.” With the win, Perkins edged out the late comedian George Burns as the oldest Grammy winner, said Stephanie Schell, a spokeswoman for the Grammy organization.

Schell said Burns was 95 when he won a 1990 Grammy in the spoken category for “Gracie: A Love Story.”

On Monday, Perkins slept in.

“After we won, they took us to the media tent and Pinetop took photos, did television. It was a lot of excitement. He was very excited about winning. I think it all came crashing down. We had to tuck him in last night,” said Patricia Morgan, Perkins’ manager.

Morgan said the award “fulfilled my dream to give that old man one more Grammy.”

Perkins won a 2007 Grammy for best traditional blues album for his collaboration on the “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas.” He also received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005.

Perkins is preparing for a trip to Jackson, Miss., next week to be honored by Gov. Haley Barbour, and to perform with Smith on Feb. 25, Morgan said.

He’s on a list to receive the 2011 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

Perkins was born in Belzoni, Miss. He now lives in Austin, Texas. He is believed to be the oldest of the old-time Delta blues musicians still performing.

In an 80-year career, he’s played at juke joints, nightclubs and festival stages with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. But he didn’t start recording in his own name until he was in his seventies, said Morgan. Perkins played for years as a side man.

He has released more than 15 solo records since 1992.

The win was a first for Perkins’ collaborator, the 75-year-old Smith, who’s been playing blues music since 1954.

“This is the first but it won’t be the last. I’m in there now,” Smith said Monday.

Smith said he and Perkins had been working together for years and when they decided to record the album, “we weren’t thinking about” winning a Grammy.

“We had no intentions of it going that far,” Perkins said.

There could be more to come.

“We’re talking about another CD together now,” Smith said. “Once you’ve got something going, record companies are not going to let you stop.”

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