In 1925 at the age of 14, he begins playing piano in public.
Blind Willie McTell plays with Willie Perryman in 1936, for a Vocalion field recording unit but the dozen that they record are lost. A lasting legacy from this session is Willie's nickname Piano Red, given to him by W.R. Calaway, the talent scout who recorded the two bluesmen.
On the 25 July 1950, Piano Red makes his first recordings for RCA Victor Records. The resultant record, 'Rockin' with Red' and 'Red's Boogie', is a big success.
Six tracks from a concert by Red at Atlanta's Magnolia Ballroom are recorded in 1956 for release on his album Piano Red in Concert. These are some of the earliest live blues recordings.
Having been dropped by RCA in 1958, Red cuts a session for Chess. The following year he records four singles for the Jax record label.
In 1960 Red makes contact with his brother and fellow piano player Speckled Red after a 35 years separation.
Red records in Nashville for the new Okeh record label in 1961 and his first single on the new label, 'Doctor Feel-Good', is released in 1962. Red and his sidemen billed as Dr Feelgood and The Interns. He will stick with the name Dr Feelgood until the early 1970's, when he reverts back to Piano Red.
Red quits touring in 1969 and settles down to a residency at Muhlenbrink's Saloon in Atlanta.
The excellent album Atlanta Bounce, recorded for Arhoolie in 1972, features 15 fresh solo recordings from Red.
Red plays at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1974.
In 1977 he makes his first tour of Europe, a series of dates that includes an appearance at the Berlin Jazz Festival and at the inauguration of West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
Red's residency at Muhlenbrink's Saloon ends in 1979 after a ten year run.
Piano Red dies of cancer on 25 July 1985 in Atlanta.