Perkins served as Johnny Cash's first guitar player and helped invent Cash's unique country style with his simple "boom-chicka-boom" guitar patterns. The song "Walk The Line" is a good example of his style. Perkins' way of playing was one of the factors that made Sam Phillips (2) sign them up for a record deal at Sun Record Company. When he first heard them, he didn't like what they played, but he liked how they played it.
Perkins died as a result of third degree burns and smoke inhalation after he fell asleep holding a lit cigarette in his hand.