Randy Williams asked his wife, Sandy, to go with him to hear Carl Perkins in 1993 at a small venue in Jackson, TN called The Bandstand. Carl told his stories and sang his songs to the audience that night. It was immediately apparent to Randy that Carl Perkins had written some of the most important early rock songs, and that he was still a consummate performer. As Carl said goodnight, Randy noticed that Carl put his guitar pick in his pants pocket, so Randy asked his wife to ask Carl for it. Carl said he was honored, and that guitar pick became the first of hundreds of guitars and memorabilia that fill the Carnegie today. Randy became a friend of “Mr. Carl”, as Randy always called him, and that friendship led Randy to begin a collection of music memorabilia, instruments, costumes, letters, records, microphones and even guitar picks.
Carl’s efforts to raise money for the prevention of child abuse made a real impression on Randy, who requested his company, ABB, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland with an office in Milan, Tennessee, to help fund the effort in Jackson requesting and receiving $15,000 in 2011. Since then Randy has donated Carl Perkins memorabilia to be auctioned for the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, an annual benefit held in Jackson each February.
When Steve Little and Jimmy Exum and the Carnegie Board began the planning for the Carnegie music exhibits they asked Randy if he would be willing to put some of his collection on loan there. Over a 3 month period, Randy spent more than 400 hours designing all the displays, framing the photographs, mounting original letters, records and sound gear. There are more than 400 pieces in Randy’s collection and the Carnegie has 500 pieces on display in total.
The idea to collect Silvertone guitars, which line the ceilings came through Carl Perkins from George Harrison, of the Beatles. Carl told Randy that George believed that Sears and Roebuck was responsible for the early growth of rock music because just about anyone could afford to buy a $7 guitar from the Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog. Almost every variety of Silvertone guitar is on display. Both Carl and George started out playing Silvertone Guitars when they were kids.
Randy is Marketing Manager for ABB in the Utilities Market Segment and continues to live in Jackson with his wife Sandy.