Pinetop Perkins was born on 07/07/1913 in Belzoni, Mississippi. His full birth name was Joseph William Perkins.
He began his career as a guitarist but then switched to piano after he injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a chorus girl in Helena, Arkansas. Perkins also moved to Sonny Boy Williamson's King Biscuit Time radio show from Robert Nighthawk's program on KFFA. He would continue to work with Nighthawk, including accompanying him on "Jackson Town Gal in 1950.
During the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker on tour. He recorded the song "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" that had been recorded by Pinetop Smith in 1928. He would be given the nickname Pinetop after playing the song.
Perkins moved to Illinois and retired from the music business.
In 1968, Earl Hooker persuaded him to record again.
In 1969, Otis Spann left the Muddy Waters band and Perkins came in to replace him. He spent 10 years with the band. After that, he formed the Legendary Blues Band with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. They record through the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
In 1980, he had a musical cameo in the film "The Blues Brothers" having an argument with John Lee Hooker over who wrote "Boom Boom".
In 1987, he appeared as a member of Toots Sweet's band in the film "Angel Heart".
In 1988, he released the album "After Hours" on Blind Pig Records. It was the first album solely dedicated to him, after being a sideman on many recordings up to that point. He toured with Jimmy Rogers and Hubert Sumlin to support the album.
In 1998, he released the album "Legends" which also featured Sumlin.
In 2004, he was involved in an accident when his car was hit by a train. He was not seriously hurt, despite being aged 91. He still regularly performed two nights a week.
In 2005. he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2011, he won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Joined at the Hip". He recorded the album with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. By winning the award he became the oldest winner of a Grammy Award. A month later on 21 March 2011, Perkins died at his home in Austin.
Perkins and David "Honeyboy" Edwards were the last surviving original Delta blues musicians and he was also one of the last surviving bluesmen to have known Robert Johnson.