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W.S. “Fluke” Holland (1935–2020), drummer for Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins

by Linnea Crowther

W.S. “Fluke” Holland was a drummer who played for Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) and Carl Perkins (1932 – 1998), including on classic songs such as “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Ring of Fire.”

Sun Records and the Tennessee Three

Holland never trained as a drummer – instead, he was an air conditioning repairman who enjoyed going to see live music and sometimes found himself on stage with a young Perkins, thumping out a rhythm on the side of an upright bass. When Perkins went to Memphis to cut a record for Sam Phillips at Sun Records, Holland went with him, playing a drum set for the first time to great success. Holland continued to play with Perkins, and he was behind the drum set on the day in 1956 when Perkins, Cash, Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977), and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the impromptu “Million Dollar Quartet” session. In 1960, Holland joined Cash for a two-week tour, which turned into 37 years of touring and recording with the Man in Black. He was a member of Cash’s backing bands the Tennessee Three, The Great Eighties Eight, and the Johnny Cash Show Band, and he served as Cash’s road manager. The last surviving member of the original Tennessee Three, Holland continued to play with Cash until Cash’s retirement from performing in 1997. He also recorded with greats including Roy Orbison (1936 – 1988), Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan.

Holland on his left-handed drumming style

“I set up everything in reverse order. Most drummers have a cross-arm style of playing. I don’t. After I became aware of what I’d done, I didn’t want to change because it seemed to work for me.” —from a 2014 interview with the Jackson Sun

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Tributes to W.S. “Fluke” Holland

Full obituary: Commercial Appeal

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