Sun Studios, Memphis

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 Reviews

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  • Me singing into Elvis' mic at Sun Studio
    Me singing into Elvis' mic at Sun Studio
    by TravellerMel
  • Inside Sun Studio
    Inside Sun Studio
    by TravellerMel
  • Sun Records
    Sun Records
    by TravellerMel
  • butterflykizzez04's Profile Photo

    Sun Studios recording home of Elvis

    by butterflykizzez04 Written Feb 9, 2014
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    This remarkable little recording studio literally changed the world. The first rock 'n roll single was recorded here in 1951 - and the studio launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and many others. The studio was opened by Sam Phillips in 1950 and the original name was Memphis Recording Service. Phillips launched his own record label in 1952, renamed the company Sun Studio and the rest is history. By 1959 Phillips had moved on and the tiny studio lay vacant until 1987 when it was renovated as a tourist attraction. In 2003 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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    Tour the Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll at Sun Studios

    by TravellerMel Written Jul 29, 2013
    Sun Studio
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    Sun Studios was HIGH on my list of things to see while I was in Memphis, and I was not disappointed. The tours leave each hour on the half hour, and can sell out, so be sure to not wait until the last minute. The tour begins at the back of the small cafe (you can get an old fashioned milkshake while you wait!) when you are led up the stairs to a small room jam-packed with memorabilia. Our tour guide was wonderful - very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. After getting the history of Memphis in the 50's, of Sam Phillip's, and Elvis and the early recordings (and time to take some pictures), you are led back downstairs and into the recording studio itself. Talk about getting goosebumps - a mark on the floor shows where Elvis stood the first time he walked in to record. Oh my!

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    Sun Studio

    by Kaspian Updated Dec 22, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sun Studio (2011)
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    A busload of old-time rock 'n' roll fans dropped off at Sun Studio is a lot like setting a crate of squirrels loose in an Oh-Henry factory. We're everywhere in there; craning our necks looking at black-and-white photographs, picking up postcards, playing with the jukebox, rifling through CDs, messing up the souvenir T-shirt displays, ordering milkshakes, coffees, coca-colas, and waiting impatiently for the tour to begin.
    Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that musician is only as good as the studio they record at and the enginneers who work there. These are the unsung heroes of the music industry! A brilliant sound engineer can make even the most mediocre of singers sound like a velvety smooth crooner. Sam Phillips, who opened Sun Studio in 1950, was such a man. This isn't to say that the greats who recorded here--Johhny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Howlin' Wolf, and a whole gammut of others, weren't talented (they most definitely were), but it took a man like Phillips to capture that properly and put in down on vinyl for the world to hear. Think of all the first lines of songs that came out of this building and you'll know them all by heart: "Well, that's all right, mama, that's all right for you..."; "I hear the train a comin', it's rollin' 'round the bend..."; "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain, too much love drives a man insane..."; "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go..."; "Come over baby, whole lot of shakin' goin' on...", "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, I keep my eyes wide open all the time..." You get the idea--rock 'n' roll as we know it was literally invented here!
    As the tour starts, we're ushered up a narrow staircase by a young guy who wasn't even a twinkle in his grandfather's eye yet when Elvis first walked through these doors. The top floor of Sun is dedicated as a museum, displaying old equipment, extremely rare vinyl, awards, what I think are some lyric sheets, and photographs of the iconic musicians who recorded here. The young guy tells us we're not allowed to take any flash photography or video in this room. He glances at the small camcorder in my hand, which I currently have activated. ...Drat!

    [NOT FINISHED. PLEASE DON'T RATE YET!]

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    Sun Studios

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Ticket Price:
    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.

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    Sun Studios

    by myrtle Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sun Studios

    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.

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    Sun Studio

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The front door of Sun Studio
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    ATTENTION ELVIS FANS! This is where the man made his first recordings during the mid-1950s. Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more have recorded here. Still a working studio as well as museum, it's a shrine for music lovers.

    It also has a nice, small, unpretentious cafe.

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    Recording Studio of Elvis and other greats

    by Toughluck Updated Oct 23, 2010

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    Sun Studio and Diner.
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    It's a great little diner like town diners in the 50's. Prior to the 'Arnolds' drive-in diners. This is just a place to get a sandwich and to sign-up for the tours. Lots of CD's from the 50's and 60's - mostly Memphis stars and their early music. The studio is actually two rooms next door, but the tour includes a museum (upstairs) with an introduction to the founder of the studio and his intent in life. It's a great tour, animated and full of stories.

    The studio is included, with time to look around and trivia, about who recorded here. The room has not changed since the days when Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee, Roy Orbison recorded here. Included are great Jazz and Blues musicians, BB King, Howlin'Wolf, and Ike Turner.

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    Recording's !!!

    by eddieboy726 Written Oct 10, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sun Studio is where alot of famous musicians started out. Some of the most famous are Elvis-Johnny Cash-Carl Perkins-Jerry Lee Lewis-B.B. King-Ike turner, and many more. The tour takes about 40 minutes. To me this was a very interesting tour, and it cost $12.00.

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    Step back in time

    by Bullabong Written Jan 10, 2007

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    Enjoy a guided tour of Sun Studio — "the birthplace of rock 'n' roll". You'll step back in time to 1954, the year that a then-unknown singer named Elvis Presley recorded his first hit, "That's All Right (Mama)," at the Memphis Sun Studio. Today, you can see Elvis Presley's first microphone along with memorabilia illustrating the rich musical legacy of Sun Studio Records. You can also hear outtakes of recording sessions at Sun Studio. Among the other well-known performers whose careers were launched at the Memphis Sun Studio are Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Sun Studio gave the world some of its early rock 'n' roll hits, including "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis and "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins. In 2003, Sun Studio made history once again. It became the first recording studio to be named a National Historic Landmark. More than 50 years after it was founded, Sun Studio remains an active recording studio.

    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. Ticket Price is $9.50 per person, & children under 12 are free.

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    Sun Studios

    by Hopkid Written Jun 27, 2006

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    Sun Studios is where Elvis got his big break. He made his first recordings here under the tutelege of Sam Phillips. The studio has been restored to the same condition it was in during the 1950s after serving time as a barbershop among other things. And it is still used as a recording studio today. You enter in the building on the corner of Union and Marshall Avenues which used to be a restaurant and now serves as the Sun Studios gift store. It is where you can pay to take the $10 tour and also get a bite to eat. The store is filled with great shirts, hats, and of course lots of CDs. The tour is very much worth it. You are first taken upstairs to a former boarding house which is now a memorabilia musuem. The docent will describe the history of Sam Phillips and Sun Studios up to the time he meets Elvis. The great part of the tour is that they play snippets of music related to the tales being told.

    Afterwards you are led downstairs into the a recreation of the actual studio front office where Elvis walked in and when asked who he sound like he supposedly said, "I don't sound like nobody." Through another door and you're in the actual studio where an X marks the spot where Elvis stood when he recorded his first tune, "Well That's Alright". At the conclusion of the tour everyone is encourage to take a turn standing on the X with a conveniently placed floor mike for photo ops.

    This tour was hands down the best of the ones I took while in Memphis. I would definitely classify this as a must-see activity!

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    Sun Studios: X marks the spot!

    by challenger Updated Aug 1, 2004

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    Sun Studios

    Once inside the studios, an incredibly knowledgeable guide will show you around the museum and the original studio where all the classic rock'n'roll records were made. In between the tour he will play snippets from a whole bunch of these tracks.

    Don't be surprised if you find yourself right on the very spot where The King stood when he made his first recordings. The recording room is pretty small, but the atmosphere is leaden with historical vibes. Just, please, don't attempt to lick the microphone even if it is the original!

    And lest we forget: This place also recorded the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and a bunch of other artists that are not to be spit at.

    And if you consider yourself a bit of a singer: You can still record your own CDs here... but don't count on being discovered yourself.

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    Sun Studios

    by challenger Updated Aug 1, 2004

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    Sun Studios

    The birthplace of Rock'n'Roll...or at least where Elvis was finally discovered. Legend has it that he just wanted to record "My Happiness" for his mother, so why was he repeatedly seen in or near the studios at the time prior to the recording? Somehow you can't help thinking that there may have been more than altruistic love for his mummy behind the action.

    Sam Philipps, the owner, initially didn't even like Presley's voice and considered it too soppy for his rough rock sound. It took a few attempts at convincing him - and some goofing around - until "That's All Right, Mama!" was made. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    At one stage the building even housed a surf shop. Probably one of the daftest business ideas around if you consider how far inland Memphis is.

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    Sun Studio

    by cruisingbug Written Apr 23, 2004

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    Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee

    The best two-room tour I've ever taken. This is a journey through time, not place. You can experience first-hand the space where Elvis, among many, many other artists, got his start, as the "guide" takes you through the Studio's still-continuing musical history.

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    Sun Studio

    by anderschwan Written Sep 11, 2003

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    Sun Studio

    If you want to see where Elvis got his start, where rockabilly, blues and rock and roll was alive at it's best, then go to Sun Studio! Still a operating recording studio, you may see Jerry Lee one day. My favorite artist, Rufus Thomas, recorded there. I had the pleasure of meeting him when I worked there one summer. The tour is small but very informative. Sun Studio is open everyday from 10am until 6pm. Public Tours are every half hour.

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  • sambarnett's Profile Photo

    Sun Studio

    by sambarnett Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Considering that you stand in one room for the entire tour, the $9 entrance fee seems a bit steep. But it's one important room! Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, BB King, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and, of course, Elvis created sheer genius here. Soak in their vibes. The next-door cafe serves up great fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Pick up your favorite Sun sides upstairs.

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