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About The Artist
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.
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.
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.
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