The Times Dispatch
Walnut Ridge, AR
Gretchen Hunt, Editor
Whether talking about the rock and roll icons who played along Highway 67 in the 1950s or The Beatles, who took the United States, and Walnut Ridge, by storm in the 1960s, one can be guaranteed that their music was influenced by the legendary Carl Perkins.
In addition to helping form the guitar licks that would become rock and roll music, Perkins was a prolific songwriter, with his works including “Blue Suede Shoes,” which was covered by Elvis, and “Honey Don’t,” which was covered by The Beatles.
Those who attend this year’s Beatles at the Ridge event, set for Sept. 15 in downtown Walnut Ridge, will have the opportunity to learn even more about Perkins’ influence first-hand when his son, Stan Perkins, takes the stage.
“Stan Perkins knows first-hand the link between the birth of rock and roll and The Beatles and will be sharing parts of his lifelong connection through song and stories at this year’s Beatles at the Ridge festival,” Charles Snapp, a member of the Lawrence County Tourism Committee, said.
Also scheduled to appear are the Liverpool Legends of Branson and Sonny Burgess and the Pacers.
A highlight that is sure to be remembered for years to come will be when Sonny Burgess and Stan Perkins join the Legends on stage to perform “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” and “Honey Don’t,” two of the hit songs written by the late Carl Perkins and performed through the years by The Beatles.
Marty Scott (George in the Liverpool Legends) said it will definitely be a special moment for him.
“Carl Perkins was one of the biggest influences on George Harrison and The Beatles when they first started out, and Sonny himself is a legend!” Scott said. “We are super excited to play some rock and roll with Sonny Burgess and Stan Perkins, son of the legendary Carl Perkins.”
Burgess suggested the joint performance, which Snapp said he quickly began trying to make happen.
“This will be a fitting tribute, further establishing the strong connection between early rock and roll and The Beatles,” Snapp said. “It’s hard to believe such a performance is going to happen in Walnut Ridge. Then again, Walnut Ridge is the place where Abbey Road meets the Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway.”
“They were huge fans of my dad’s and I was a fan of theirs,” he said. “After all, they were The Beatles and it was 1964.”
Stan said it didn’t take many meetings before he realized they were a great group of guys, who just happened to be the most popular band in the world.
“George was as down to earth as anyone I knew, which made it easy to get to know him,” he said. “Now, for me to have the opportunity to be a part of an effort to re-establish the importance early Rock and Roll played in the lives of The Beatles and the development of their style of music is exciting, very exciting!”
In addition to the songs performed during the Liverpool Legends’ concert, which will be from 4-6 p.m., Sonny Burgess and the Pacers will take the stage at 7, and Stan will join them at 8.
“When Stan joins Sonny Burgess and the Pacers on stage for the final hour of entertainment at this year’s Beatles at the Ridge festival, the crowd will be entertained like few crowds have witnessed before,” Snapp said. “Stan has a list of his favorite songs they will be performing; and, as an added bonus, Stan has agreed to share a bit of the history related to those songs, including several songs The Beatles sang that were written by none other than the late Carl Perkins.”
Snapp emphasized that there is no charge to attend the concert, as well as the entire festival, which begins with an opening ceremony at 8:45 a.m.
“This year’s event will conclude with seldom heard stories about both The Beatles and the birth of rock and roll, put together with the sounds of Sonny Burgess and the Pacers and the musical talents of Stan Perkins … and it’s all free,” Snapp said.