Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins made history on Feb. 13 when the 97-year-old blues pianist won his third Grammy, becoming the oldest person ever to snag the award.
Perkins topped the previous record-holder, beating out the late comedian George Burns who won a statue at 95 in the early 1990s.
Perkins and his harmonica-playing collaborator Willie “Big Eyes” Smith” won the award for Best Traditional Blues Album for their 2010 collection “Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith.”
“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,” Patricia Morgan, Perkins’ manager, told the Associated Press.
The bluesman won the award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2007 for his part in the “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas” and received the Grammy lifetime achievement accolade in 2005.
Perkins began his 80-year career playing guitar and piano at house parties and “honky-tonk” bars throughout the Mississippi Delta in the late 1920s. He spent the bulk of his career as a sideman for groups like the Muddy Waters Band. A late bloomer, Perkins came into his own as a soloist in the 1990s, his seventh decade as an artist. Since 1992, he’s released more than 15 solo sessions.
In the midst of recording, Perkins launched a foundation in his name, which trains aspiring Mississippi musicians in his instruments of choice, the piano and guitar, according to Perkins’ official Web site.
Honors keep pouring in for the veteran musician. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will present Perkins with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 24 for his legacy in the arts.
His music partner says the duo might generate more music soon.
“We’re talking about another CD together now,” Smith told the AP.