Al Perkins (born January 18, 1944) is an American guitarist known primarily for his steel guitar work.[1] The Gibson guitar company called Perkins "the world's most influential dobro player" and began producing an "Al Perkins Signature" Dobro in 2001—designed and autographed by Perkins.[2]

Al Perkins
Birth nameAlbert Perkins
Born (1944-01-18) January 18, 1944 (age 79)
De Kalb, Texas, U.S.
GenresFolk, bluegrass, rock, country rock, country, contemporary Christian
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
Instrument(s)Pedal steel guitar, guitar, dobro, banjo, vocals
Years active1953–present

Early yearsEdit

Al Perkins was born and raised in Texas and learned to play Hawaiian steel guitar at the age of 9. In the 1950s Perkins was considered a child prodigy, playing with regional country and western bands, appearing on TV/radio, and winning several talent contests. In the early 1960s, Perkins began playing electric guitar with west Texas rock bands, and was discovered by Mickey Jones and Kenny Rogers of The First Edition. By 1966, he enlisted into the Army National Guard and was discharged from the US Army Reserves in 1970.


In 1970, Perkins joined the east Texas country rock band, Shiloh, and moved to California.[3] The band included Don Henley and future producer/record executive Jim Ed Norman. Perkins was then hired to play in the new incarnation of the Flying Burrito Brothers[4][5] and recorded the live album The Last of the Red Hot Burritos in 1972. Perkins, along with Chris Hillman, formerly of The Byrds,[6] went on to join Stephen Stills' Manassas,[7] whose material fused Latin, rock, blues, country, folk, and bluegrass influences. He also played steel guitar on the Rolling Stones' song, "Torn and Frayed" on Exile on Main St.[8]

With Stills working with Crosby Stills and Nash, Perkins and Hillman joined Richie Furay[9] (Buffalo Springfield and Poco founding member) and J.D. Souther in the Souther–Hillman–Furay Band.[10] Perkins moved into record production in the mid-1970s, but did tour again with Michael Nesmith and McGuinn & Hillman. As a session player, Perkins contributed to many notable albums, including the Eagles' On the Border.[11]

He joined the British band Ark in 1977 and recorded the album The Angels Come.[12]


Continuing his production work into the 1980s, Perkins also toured with Chris Hillman as a duo before joining Dolly Parton in 1986, touring and recording with her for several years before moving to Nashville.

In Nashville Perkins formed a new project called The Nash Ramblers with Emmylou Harris, with whom he had worked previously on the two solo albums recorded by Gram Parsons.[13] (It was his association with Parsons that led to Perkins being called in to play on the sessions for the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street). The Live at the Ryman album was to win Perkins his first Grammy award in 1992.

Perkins is listed playing pedal steel guitar on two albums by Christian singer Don Francisco: Holiness and One Heart at a Time.


Al Perkins continues to tour and record. To date, other artists Al Perkins has played for are: James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam, Dan Fogelberg, Joe Walsh, Mike Love, Solomon Burke, Patty Loveless, Cher, Rita Coolidge, Iris DeMent, Michael Martin Murphey, Buddy Miller, Tommy Womack, Yo La Tengo, and Jim Lauderdale.

In 2002 Perkins released a collection of studio outtakes and rare recordings. Snapshots features recordings by the Nash Ramblers and the Flying Burrito Brothers among others. This was followed in 2003 by Triple Play, Perkins' first solo album, revealing blues, country, bluegrass, gospel and Cajun influences.

Perkins appeared on stage alongside James Burton and Keith Richards at the Gram Parsons tribute show in California in summer 2004.

Throughout the 2000s Perkins toured periodically with the Road Trippers, a band led by Kevin Montgomery and occasionally included Mike McAdam and Mavericks Paul Deakin and Robert Reynolds.

In 2009, Perkins formed Big Dog 3, a trio with bassist Chris Donohue and drummer Brady Blade. Big Dog 3's self-titled debut album features guests such as Jim Lauderdale and Emmylou Harris. Today Al Perkins performs with The HiPower Band, which includes vocalist Kristine Arnold (Sweethearts of the Rodeo).


Grammy AwardsEdit

  • 1997 – Producer on Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album
  • 1992 – Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal
  • 1991 – Best Bluegrass Album

Other awardsEdit

  • 2015 – Induction to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame (Manassas)
  • 2007 – 'Musician of the Year' Texas Music Awards
  • 1997 – Induction to The Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame
  • 1993 – Induction to Opryland's Starwalk
  • 1985 – Indie Award for album production on Desert Rose


With Dolly Parton

With Dan Fogelberg

With Randy Newman

With John Wesley Harding

  • The Confessions of St. Ace (Mammoth Records, 2000)

With Michael Nesmith

With Jim Lauderdale

  • Planet of Love (Reprise Records, 1991)
  • Persimmons (Rounder Records, 1996)
  • Patchwork River (Thirty Tigers, 2010)
  • I'm a Song (Sky Crunch Records, 2014)

With Rita Coolidge

With Bob Dylan

With Bob Bennett

With George Ducas

With Terry Reid

With Russ Taff

With Dwight Yoakam

With Eagles

With Michael Martin Murphey

With Juice Newton

With Richie Furay

  • I've Got a Reason (Asylum Records, 1976)
  • Dance a Little Light (Asylum Records, 1978)
  • Seasons of Change (Myrrh Records, 1982)
  • The Heartbeat of Love (Always An Adventure, 2006)

With Garth Brooks

  • Sevens (Capitol Records, 1997)

With Gene Clark

With Kate Campbell

  • Songs from the Levee (Compass Records, 1994)
  • Moonpie Dreams (Demon Records, 1997)

With Joe Nichols

  • III (Universal South Records, 2005)

With Wynonna Judd

With Chris Hillman

  • Slippin' Away (Asylum Records, 1976)
  • Morning Sky (Sugar Hill Records, 1982)
  • Desert Rose (Sugar Hill Records, 1984)

With Billy Preston

With Solomon Burke

  • Nashville (Shout! Factory, 2006)

With Mark Heard

With Roger McGuinn

With Steve Forbert

  • Rocking Horse Heads (Revolution Records, 1996)

With Bill LaBounty

  • Bill LaBounty (Warner Bros. Records, 1982)

With Tim Easton

  • Special 20 (Heathen Records, 1998)

With Miranda Lambert

With Steve Camp

With Michelle Shocked

With Jill Sobule

With Tori Amos

With Tom Rush

  • Voices (Appleseed Records, 2018)

With Emmylou Harris

With Leonard Cohen

With John Prine

With Donna Summer

With James Taylor

  • Gorilla (Warner Bros. Records, 1975)

With John Denver

With Gram Parsons

With Cher

  • Cher (Casablanca Records, 1979)

With Joe Walsh


  1. ^ Winston, Winnie; Bill Keith (1975). Pedal Steel Guitar. Oak Publications. ISBN 0-8256-0169-X.
  2. ^ "Perfect Sound Forever: Al Perkins interview". Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  3. ^ Einarson, John (2001). Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 1-4616-0733-7.
  4. ^ Einarson, John; Hillman, Chris (2008). Hot Burritos: The True Story Of The Flying Burrito Brothers. Jawbone. ISBN 978-1-9060-0216-9.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Flying Burrito Brothers". AllMusic. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  6. ^ Frame, Pete (1980). Pete Frame's Rock Family Trees (Byrds & Eagles sections). Quick Fox. ISBN 0-8256-3950-6.
  7. ^ Caldwell, Rob. "Biography: Manassas". AllMusic. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  8. ^ "Exile on Main St. - The Rolling Stones - Credits". AllMusic.
  9. ^ Furay, Richie; Roberts, Michael (2012). Pickin' Up the Pieces: The Heart and Soul of Country Rock Pioneer Richie Furay. Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-3075-5079-8.
  10. ^ Hartenbach, Brett. "Biography: Souther-Hillman-Furay Band". AllMusic. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Vaughan, Andrew (2010). The Eagles: An American Band. Sterling. ISBN 978-1-40-277712-7.
  12. ^ Cummings, Tony. "Dave Kelly, Jesus Music Veteran". Cross Rhythmns. Cross Rhythmns. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Griffin, Sid (1985). Gram Parsons: A Music Biography. Sierra Books. ISBN 0-9160-0300-0.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit