Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b William Lee Perryman, 19 Oct. '11, Hampton GA; d 1 Aug. '85, Atlanta) Singer, pianist, songwriter. One of 16 children; brother Rufus was Speckled Red; family moved to Atlanta '19; worked as upholsterer, played piano in church but soon moved on to rent parties, clubs. Nickname from complexion (he was an albino; also partly blind). Recorded with Blind Willie McTell '36; signed with RCA '50; had two-sided hit 'Rockin' With Red'/'Red's Boogie': first side charted '50, the other '51, sold a million: one of those sometimes called the first rock'n'roll record. Top ten R&B hits '51: 'The Wrong Yo Yo', 'Just Right Bounce', 'Layin' The Boogie'. Often used sidemen such as Budd Johnson, Al Sears on records; was a regular on WAOK Atlanta, toured South, dropped by RCA '58; went to Jax, Chess, then OKeh '61: 'Dr Feelgood' a success; changed name of act, rocking band to Dr Feelgood and the Interns for LP of that name, played college circuit for a while. Was Piano Red again early '70s; recorded live at Muhlenbrink's Saloon by Underground Atlanta; album Happiness Is Piano Red on King; appeared in TV movie The Catchers '72; toured overseas, festivals; made LPs Ain't Gonna Be Your Lowdown Dog No More on Black Lion UK, Dr Feelgood All Alone aka Wm. Perryman (Alone With Piano) on Arhoolie, both '75. Saw Europe again late '70s; suffered long illness.