By coincidence, driving to Memphis we heard a NPR reading from "Dewey and Elvis: The Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Deejay" the biography of Dewey Phillips written by Louis Cantor, a professor of history at Indiana University.
Dewey Phillips and Sam Phillips (no relation to each other) had a very brief record company partnership in 1950 in a company called "It's The Phillips" which issued only one record. Sam Phillips continued working in the recording business as the Memphis Recording Service, and in 1952, he started Sun Records.
The Memphis Recording Service, in addition to recording bar mitzvahs, weddings,, , also recorded personal records for people walking in off the street. For four dollars they would record two songs. A young truck driver in Memphis named Elvis Presley stopped in one day on his lunch hour to record a song for his mother's birthday. Sam Phillips was not there that day, so Marion Keisker, the Sun office manager, recorded Elvis. Marion kept urging Sam to record Elvis.
In 1954, Sam made the recording of Elvis singing "That's All Right, Mama" (Sun 209). Sam took a dub of the record to Dewey Phillips, who was a top DJ on WHBQ. Dewey played the song over and over on his program "Red, Hot and Blue".
We are not rabid Elvis fans, so this was news to us - we had never heard of Dewey Phillips before but the reading of the book made a good introduction to the Memphis music scene of the 50s
Sun Studio is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. Tours are given at the bottom of every hour on the half hour starting at 10:30 and ending at 5:30. Sun Studio requires at least 1 to 1.5 hours.
The tour ticket price is $9.50 per person, & children under 12 are free. We apologize, but due to the nature of our guided performance tour, children 3 & under are not allowed to take the tour.
* No reservations are necessary.
I've never actually visited Sun Studios, but I'd like to. All I know about it is that Elvis & some other famous musicians have recorded here and that they give tours. Sorry I can't be more helpful with this info, but maybe soon I'll have an opportunity to go so I can be more informative.
In 1975, the Racquetball Building (where the bi-level lounge is) was built as an extension of Graceland. On his last day, Elvis sat at this piano in the lounge to play the tunes and to sing “Unchained Melody” and "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” with his friends.
The next day he was found collapsed in his bedroom upstairs. Elvis Presley passed away on 16 August 1977 due to heart failure.
You can't go to Memphis without checking out Graceland. It's a bit of a drive through a somewhat shady part of town. The area might not be what it was 50 years ago, but Graceland itself is very well-kept. Mind you, admission to the tour is close to $30 bucks a pop, more than we were each spending for a night in our hotel. So we opted not to see the actual house, and instead just soaked up some of the atmosphere. The place looks spectacular from the outside, and from what we saw in gift shops and such, the inside is pretty fantastic as well. It's really interesting to see how the King lived - it's very well preserved. We got our fill of old Elvis tunes and memorabilia, and fell in love with one particular pose that we just couldn't help but keep busting out for the rest of our trip. See photo.
In 1954, and young local musician named Elvis Presley walked into Sun Studios and paid $4 for record a single record..
You know the rest of the story.... This is the birthplace of Rock and Roll.
If you are an Elvis fan, you've probably already been here.... If you appreciate Elvis like I do, you'll probably enjoy this place too.
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