Friday, September 25, 2020
– W.S. "Fluke" Holland, drummer for Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, including on classic songs such as "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Ring of Fire," died Wednesday at his home in Jackson, Tenn. after a short illness at the age of 85 due to congestive heart failure.
Holland was born in Saltillo, Tenn. in April 1935 and graduated from J.B. Young High School in Bemis.
Holland never trained as a drummer. 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, Tenn. 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. He played drums on the 1955 Sun Records recording of "Blue Suede Shoes."
Holland continued to play with Perkins, and he was behind the drum set on the day in 1956 when Perkins, Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the impromptu "Million Dollar Quartet" session.
In 1960, Cash called Holland for a two-week tour to New York and New Jersey. Having just been given a surveying job opportunity and recently marrying his wife, Joyce, Holland was reluctant to go with Cash, but agreed to do so.
The two-week tour 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.
After Cash's retirement, Holland went on to tour and play with his own band, The WS Holland Band formed by long-time manager/music director/guitarist and fellow Jackson, Tenn. resident Ron Haney.
He also recorded with Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.
A member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Radio Nostalgia Hall of Fame (2016 Sweden), Holland was the recipient of a number of other awards and recognition including the 2014 Ameripolitan Music "Founder of the Sound" award and a Tennessee Music Awards Lifetime Achievement award in 2018.