Hillbilly-Music.com—The People. The Music. The History.
Red Perkins
and His Kentucky Redheads
Born:  August 3, 1920
Died:  August 15, 1990

About The Artist

Red Perkins and the Southerners

He was born Wuster Lamont Nunemaker but music fans would come to know him as Red Perkins. His parents were Floyd and Ella (Frazier) Nunemaker.

Per a King promotional record, his parents gave him his first guitar when he was just eight years old. He kept at it on his own, never taking a lesson and learned to not only pick the guitar, but sing along with his playing as well. That same promotional record also noted that he was just 17 years old when he visited a radio station in Charleston, West Virginia and did an audition. This would be about 1937. He did end up with a daily 15 minute radio program. In 1950, when "Big Blue Diamonds" was released, he was heard over a Dayton, Ohio radio station.

Red Perkins - Big Blue Diamonds Billboard magazine reported in September 1948 that DeLuxe was going to release the first recordings by Red Perkins, "...a hillbilly singer." A month later, they were reporting that jukebox operators - over 3,500 of them - were predicting Red's recording of "One Has My Name" was going to be a hit. In December, they were citing Sid Nathan as stating he was going to be recording some hit records for the King label.

The DeLuxe recordings may have been made with Red's first band - the Kentucky Redheads.

Red Perkins recorded what may have been the first recording of "Big Blue Diamonds" for the King record label. His nephew provided an image copy of the "Dee Jay Special" promotional record King sent to radio stations that included some biographical information. Orville Via in the March / April issue 1950 of National Hillbilly News noted that King was sending out promotional records via these "Dee Jay Special" records. They were white labels and included 30 to 40 word descriptions of the tune and the artist.

In the summer of 1949, Billboard noted that Red was doing a 'bluesy' vocal on the flip side of one of Pee Wee King's recordings on King - "Hoe Down Boogie" (King 792) the "A" side was "Aggravatin' Lou From Louisville" which Red also did vocals and the reviewers thought the song would do best in 'cities'.

In November, Billboard again offered up some comments on Red's recordings on King. For "Too Late" they said he "...warbles fervently through a sentimental waltz and gives it some weight." On the flip side, "I Know Better Now" - they said he made the material sound better than it was.

Another hit for him was "One Has My Name" on the DeLuxe label and we see a couple examples of how he was promoted.

Red Perkins

Red Perkins

We have also seen label images from Paul Howard and his Arkansas Cotton Pickers on King 779 that indicate the vocals were done by Red Perkins. Those tunes were "Torn Between True Love and Desire" and "Texas Boogie". From what we can determine, the recordings were done in 1948. Red is also given vocal credit on King 814 by Paul Howard - "Twelve O'Clock Waltz". The flip side was "Hora Sta Cotton Picker" and was an instrumental.

In the November 1951 issue of Country Song Roundup, Bobby Gregory mentioned in his monthly column that Red had his own half-hour show over WLW-D in Dayton, Ohio.

Red Perkins - Ad - Rustic Barn - 1951  Red Perkins - Moose Hall - Marion OH

Red Perkins - Lima Memorial Hall - April 1949

Red Perkins - Date Unknown A personal appearance ad in the Marion Star on September 2, 1954 may provide a glimpse as to who made up the band members of Red's group The Southerners. The band was to appear at the Moose Hall on Main Street in Marion, Ohio. The names listed were Red, Lucky Moore, Bob Beane, Chubby Howard, Gretta Fay, Red Selover and the Brooks Sisters. The ad noted "...in a stampede of Western and Hillbilly Swing..."

He married Nona Mae (Wright) on October 20, 1950 in Morgan, Ohio. Nona was born in Farmers Poun, Kentucky in 1925. She passed away in 1991.

His nephew indicated that Red lived most of his life in the Fairborn / Springfield, Ohio area and held a job with a railroad. Our research found that he may have been a locomotive engineer.

Red passed away in August 1990 in Columbus, Ohio from complications after surgery at Ohio State University Hospital.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Dan Tinsley, nephew of Red Perkins for providing some biographical information, photos and images of discs and other material of Red's career.
  • Billboard; September 18, 1948; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; October 9, 1948; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; November 20, 1948; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; December 4, 1948; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; March 12, 1949; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Lima News; April 21, 1949; Lima, Ohio
  • Lima News; April 28, 1949; Lima, Ohio
  • Billboard; July 9, 1949; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; July 23, 1949; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; November 12, 1949; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; January 7, 1950; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Billboard; January 28, 1950; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Lima News; February 15, 1950; Lima, Ohio
  • Lima News; April 27, 1950; Lima, Ohio
  • Lima News; November 8, 1950; Lima, Ohio
  • Fairborn Daily Herald; May 3, 1950; Fairborn, Ohio
  • Fairborn Daily Herald; May 10, 1950; Fairborn, Ohio
  • Fairborn Daily Herald; May 17, 1950; Fairborn, Ohio
  • Fairborn Daily Herald; May 24, 1950; Fairborn, Ohio
  • Fairborn Daily Herald; May 31, 1950; Fairborn, Ohio
  • Country Song Roundup No. 12; June 1951; Charlton Pub. Corp.; Charlton Building; Bristol, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 15; July 1951; Charlton Publishing Corporation; Charlton Building; Bristol, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 17; November 1951; Charlton Pub. Corp.; Charlton Building; Bristol, CT
  • National Hillbilly News; January / February 1950; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Via; Huntington, WV
  • National Hillbilly News; March/April 1950; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Via; Huntington, WV
  • Marion Star; September 2 and 3, 1954; Marion, Ohio

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5047 A One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)
  5047 B I Live The Life I Love
  5052 A Someday You'll Call My Name
  5052 B You're Gonna Regret It All Someday
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  792 A Aggravating Lou From Louisville
  792 B Hoedown Boogie
  823 A I Know Better Now
  823 B Too Long
  836 A Crocodile Tears
  836 B I Hate You
  850 A One At A Time
  850 B I'm So Happy I Could Cry
  903 A Big Blue Diamonds
  903 B Rag Man Boogie
  920 A I'm Gonna Rush Right Down To The Macon
  920 B A Long-Necked Bottle (And a Big Water Glass)