Sun Sounds- “Matchbox” -Carl Perkins. December 4, 1956 was an historic day at Sun Studios- Perkins recorded “Matchbox” earlier in the day with Sam Phillips producing. The great bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson had recorded a song back in 1927 called “Matchbox Blues”-
Carl Perkins’s father Buck suggested that he write a song based on snatches of lyrics that he remembered. Buck knew only a few lines from the 1927 song from the recordings by Jefferson or the Shelton Brothers. As Perkins sang the few words his father had suggested, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was at that time a session piano player at Sun Studio, began a restrained boogie woogie riff. Carl began picking out a melody on the guitar and improvised lyrics. The Sun recording on December 4, 1956 was produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in Memphis. Perkins maintained that he had never heard Jefferson’s song when he recorded “Matchbox”. The songs are musically, thematically, and lyrically totally different. Jefferson’s song is about a mean spirited woman; Perkins’ is about a lovelorn “poor boy” with limited prospects.
Later that day something more important happened- Elvis who was a big star at this point was back in Memphis and dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was in the studio working as a session man on “Matchbox”- then Johnny Cash dropped over. An impromptu jam session took place- it was recorded and became known as The Million Dollar Quartet. What would that be called today- the Billion Dollar Quartet?
Carl Perkins was a big influence on The Beatles- they would cover “Matchbox” in 1964- with Ringo singing it- it was released as a single and peaked at #17 in the Billboard Hot 100.