Roy Boogie Boy Perkins

Listen to Roy Perkins on Drop Top

Swamp Popper Roy "Has Got that Teardop in his Voice"

boogie boy perkinsConsidered for years to be a "mystical rock 'n' roll artist"—John Broven's fitting words—dwelling in the music's dark shadows, when the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau first tracked down Roy "Boogie Boy" Perkins, he was residing where ninety-five percent of all original Louisiana Rockers seem to live, the great city celebrated in Randy & the Rockets' "(Let's Do) The Cajun Twist." Where do you ask, is that? Why, Lafayette, of course, home of the USL campus that played host to Boogie Boy's first demo recordings. Those recordings, made with esteemed Lafayette dance band Phillip Comeaux and the Modernaires, garnered Roy and company the opportunity to cut a session—not at Cosimo's as they had hoped, but at a New Orleans TV station after hours, which resulted in Perkins' first record, 1955's "You're On My Mind." A plaintive, tripleting ballad backed by the great rocker "Bye Bye Baby," "You're On My Mind" bears out fellow South Louisiana soul singer Joe Barry's observation that "Roy's got that teardrop in his voice."

The record, released on the Meladee Label, is—along with Bobby Charles' "On Bended Knees"—most definitely the first example of swamp pop, an English term that Roy, for his part, can't stand. But we'll use it just for clarity's sake here. What separated these two songs from the very similar form of New Orleans R&B was that rather than New Orleans musicians, Perkins and Charles used their own bands for backing, giving their records a slightly rawer sensibility and unknowingly foreshadowing what was to become a hallmark of the swamp pop genre.

After a follow up record on Meladee, "You're Gone" backed with "Here I Am," Perkins did session work for Jay Miller, where he was featured on Warren Storm's "Mama Mama Mama," then signed up for bass duties with Bobby Page & the Riff-Raffs, a band that featured two of South Louisiana's baddest tenor sax men; Modernaires alumnus Jimmy "Scatman" Patin and Bobby Charles horn man Harry Simoneaux. The Riff-Raffs recorded for Mira Smith's Shreveport-based Ram label, and records were released featuring the different members in the forefront: "Red Beans & Rice" was a driving instrumental credited to Scatman Patin & the Ram Rods, "Hippy-Ti-Yo" a rock 'n' roll version of the traditional Cajun tune "Hip-Et Taiaud," sung in French and English and credited to Bobby Page and, perhaps most impressively, another swampy ballad that dwelt in the same musical place as "You're On My Mind;" "Just Another Lie" credited to Roy Perkins. The song seemed to bring Roy full circle as it was covered by, among others, a teenage Jackie De Shannon (who recorded it in Cincinnati with a backing group dubbed the Cajuns!), Brenda Lee and—in a stroke of total artistic justice for—Esquerita!

When the Riff-Raffs weren't recording at Ram, they were playing gigs and partying—two activities that seemed to go hand in hand for the band, as nearly every photo of them pictures every band member holding at least one drink, if not two! Their annual gig on Mardi Gras day in Lafayette can only be speculated about at this point!

In the mid-sixties Roy joined the legendary blue-eyed soul band the Swing Kings, which also featured current L'il Band O' Gold sax man Dickie Landry, and they cut an album for the La Louisianne label. After that, the bass slot in Johnnie Allan's band beckoned until Roy retired from music in the early seventies. Not having played a gig in twenty years, the Boogie Boy made a triumphant return to the stage in 2001 at the Mystic Knights' Tip On Inn Revue Show at the Circle Bar.

Dig all the Riff-Raffs material, including some excellent unreleased stuff, on the killer Ace CD Bobby Page and the Riff-Raffs featuring Roy "Boogie Boy" Perkins and check out Roy's earlier recordings on Night Train's Legendary Labels Of Louisiana: The Best Of Meladee.

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