March 27, 1952 was the day Sam Phillips started Sun Records in Memphis, TN. Since then, his visionary ear shaped the sound of R&B, Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Sam discovered legendary talents Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and many more.
In 1969, Sun was purchased by Shelby Singleton and moved to its current headquarters in Nashville, TN. The building which housed Sun Records and the Memphis Recording Service went through several changes until 1987 when it was reopened as a tourist attraction under the name Sun Studio.
The highly anticipated TV show, Vinyl, began airing in February. Set in the 1970s, the show follows a New York record company executive as “he hustles to make a career out of the city’s diverse music scene,” (IMDB). Created by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, the series blurs the line between fact and fiction. It combines the occurrences of real historic people and real music with the narrative of American Century Records, a fictitious label ran by fictitious people.
Midway through the season, an episode features a story line that includes The King of Rock himself, Elvis. It gives us a glimpse at a situation that may or may not have happened in real life, and was another great way the writers of the show can blend real historical people and events with the fictional record label.
Since the premier, Vinyl has used multiple Sun artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin’ Wolf and Rosco Gordon. Needless to say, the series uses plenty of great music. Catch Vinyl on HBO Sunday nights at 9PM EST.
Sun is excited to announce a partnership with Musicbed, a full service licensing platform. They “provide a highly curated selection of songs to filmmakers for use in media projects.” Those searching through the Musicbed “Vintage” genre will find over 1,100 tracks from the deep Sun catalog, ranging from Johnny Cash to relative unknown artists recorded decades ago in Memphis. Since a large portion of Sun’s complete catalog, over 8,000 tracks, remains unmastered, many of the songs available at Musicbed can not be found elsewhere online.
On December 4, 1956, the legendary Million Dollar Quartet jam session took place at Sun Studio, Memphis, TN. It was the only occasion in which Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins were in the same studio at the same time. You can purchase a copy of the recording here.
The Killer is at it again! You may have been lucky enough to catch Jerry Lee Lewis perform in the United Kingdom earlier this month, including a sold out show at the London Palladium. JLL has been keeping active since the release of his most recent studio album, Rock & Roll Time. Read about Jerry Lee’s performance in London here, and check out his website for other upcoming tour dates.
Today marked the 12th anniversary of Sam Phillips passing. To celebrate his life, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville will have an exhibit showcasing the genius of Sam, which opens August 28th. Find out more information about the exhibit on the Hall of Fame’s website. He left us on July 30, 2003 but his influence on the music industry will be remembered forever.
Peter Guralnick, the music biographer and author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock n’ Roll, has released the cover of his book, due out in November. He spoke with Entertainment Weekly this month to shed some light on the biography he’s been working on for 25 years. To read the interview and get a glimpse into what Entertainment Weekly calls Guralnick’s crown jewel of biographies, head over to ew.com.
Jack White was interviewed by Billboard Magazine’s Joe Levy in the March 10th edition of the music industry publication. Pick up a copy or click here to read the discussion in detail, where White describes the comeback of vinyl records, preserving music, and Jack’s recent acquisition of what many consider the holy grail of rock & roll: Elvis Presley’s first ever recording.
“Utilizing the actual unrestored audio as it currently exists on the sole original copy of “My Happiness” b/w “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” Third Man will make a limited facsimile, 10-inch 78rpm disc available on April 18, 2015. From reproducing the typewritten labels (printed on the reverse of extra Prisonaires labels that happened to be laying around Sun Records in July 1953) to being packaged in a plain, nondescript, of-the-era sleeve, the utmost attention to detail has been paid in order to create an object so close to the historic original as to almost be indistinguishable from one other.
Later this year, Third Man will release a widely available 7-inch 45rpm featuring newly restored versions of the two songs. Working from a transfer done by industry expert Alan Stoker at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the audio will be as clean as modern technology can make it without losing the feeling and soul that makes these two songs both haunting and breath-taking.”-Third Man Records
Listen to a clip of “My Happiness” and get a glimpse of this spinning piece of American musical history in this video and view images of the artwork below: