Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sun Records

This is Sam Philips’ Sun Records Studio. It was where Elvis cut his first record which he paid for himself. It cost him $3 to cut it, supposedly as a birthday gift for his mother, but that story is doubtful as his mother’s birthday was three months before he made the recording. Anyone could make a record and walk out the door with the single and only copy (no recording was made, the music went directly onto the vinyl). Sam Philips was not there that day but the woman who ran the place thought Elvis had something and made an extra copy which she played for Sam. He did not like the mournful ballad sound and did not think it would sell.

Elvis kept hanging around the studio until eventually Sam had two session players in the studio with nothing to do and had Elvis try a few songs. They sang and played ballads for a long time but nothing appealed to Sam. During a break Elvis spontaneously broke into a Blues song and the players soon picked up on it and started playing along with him. It was Elvis’ rendition of “That’s All Right Mama” and Sam’s ears perked up. He liked the blend of Country and Blues Elvis gave the song and recorded it. Sam had a friend who was a DJ and gave him a copy. The DJ played it once and the phones started ringing in the station. They ended up playing the song 14 times that night and a star was born! Elvis was not Sun’s most valuable star, that distinction belongs to Howlin’ Wolf, the Blues singer.

Sam eventually realized he did not have the money or facilities to continue with Elvis and sold his contract. The sale gave Sam enough money to pay off his debts and modernize the studio. Soon three more stars appeared at his door, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. The rest is history!


Sam Philips at his recording equipment.


“The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis!


Me and The King! The microphone I have has “always” been around the studio and may be the one Elvis himself used!


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