April 22, 2013
Sun Recording Studios of Memphis is a fun, fun tour. Its located on Union Street and if you grew up with Eivis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, this is where they got started, with a dream of Studio owner, Sam Phillips.
Sam Phillips was a unique character. He grew up around the Blues which according to historians started on Beale Street in Memphis. The slave music of misery,and white sharecroppers alike singing out their woes; every street corner in the black area of Memphis had a jug band that played for pennies. Music flowed from black churches. The field hollers and rythmic beat of the black community made the streets course with energy while radio stations only played country music and Grand Old Opry. Phillips wanted to record the energetic blues.
There was one DJ named Dewey Phillips who played “race” music. Teenagers listened to it in secret. Dewey would screech out of his microphone,” If your momma don’t like it, all the better. Tell ‘em Phillips Sencha.” His station was the Red Hot and Blue in Memphis, screaming to the kids and they loved it.
What Sam Phllips did, (he and Dewey were not related) was open a recording service. He’d charge you to come in and record your stuff. He’d do a wedding, an anniversary, your poetry, anything at $4 a pop, hoping that someday, someone would walk into his studio and make it big. He recorded the Beale Street Blues and captured that raw energy. He didn’t care about white or black music, he would crank up the amps and distort it. He’d blend styles because he thought music should be fun. He wanted music to sound like a party in the room.
Elvis grew up in Memphis and he walked in one day. But Elvis paid to record his ballads. Sam didn’t like “You Are My Sunshine” and other such stuff. He’d try and get Elvis to play something with energy. Elvis played with the studio band for a year and a half before something happened that Sam liked while the he and the session players were just messing around in the studio during a break. It was the song, “That’s All Right.” Sam brought it to Dewey who played it 14 times the first night it went on the air. Rock N Roll was born.
A young John Cash walked in in 1954. “I’m John Cash and I want you to hear me play”. Sam listened but told him, “write me an uptempo weeper love song”. “Cry, Cry, Cry” was released in 1955. Sam called him “The Giant Voice In Black.”
But, Sun Studio’s first biggest paying hit was Carl Perkins, “Don’t you Step On My Blue Suede Shoes.” Of course Sam was sending recordings to Dewey Phillips and Elivis was hitting the pop charts, crossing styles and fusing music. Carl heard Elvis on the Radio, as did Jerry Lee Lewis. It drew them to Sun Studio.
This is what the studio calls its Million Dollar Quartet, Jerry Lee, Carl, Cash and Elvis in one photo. Jerry Lee signed on as a session player (back-up pianist) but in between recordings he’d pound the ivories like a wild man, play with his feet until his piano sounded like a drum. He finally broke through with HIS kind of music with a “A Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Goin On” in 1957. And six months later, “Great Balls OF Fire” scaring the hell out of parents everywhere.
I love this poster of Jerry Lee playing a burning piano. Lewis is the only musician of the fab four who is still alive and playing rock n roll.
Sam Phillips sold Elvis’s contract to a bigger studio. He was in debt and he knew he didn’t have the bankroll to really further Elvis’ career. A good move for both of them. Elvis didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed this tour very much. There are great pictures of great musicians here, some of their instruments and the recording studio itself. Even if you didn’t grow up in the 1950′s, you will enjoy the energy in this place. The tour guides are great. Lahna Deering was our guide and she is a musician with the Deering And Down band. You can hear her unique music on her website at this link. I like it and hope she makes it big some day.
The rest of the studio tour is about the many great musicians that came here and made great music.
A rare picture of Roy Orbison without sunglasses. Here he is, young and hopeful.
Big Walter Horton, Blues Harmonica Great.
Jim Jaillet, my partner. We were invited to have fun, so we did, as did others. They encourage you to dance to the music and sing along.
What a crooner!
The way Roy Orbison usually appeared in public.
Paul Burlison, a renowned session guitarist.
Ike Turner, leader of the Delta Cats Band.
Two of Elvis’ session players that were recorded with him at Sun Studios, Scotty and Bill.
Rufus “Bearcat” Thomas Jr.
If you are an equipment junkie, it is all here.
An old 45 RPM player. In fact, Sun Studios sells 100′s of remastered 45′s. They sell all of the wonderful pictures as well. It kind of makes me think about galleries who don’t allow pictures for fear you won’t buy any. They do a gold mine business selling everything and still allow photos. Kudos to them.
Lahna demonstrated how Johnny Cash would put a dollar bill under his strings and loosen them up to get that special sound you hear in “Folsom Prison Blues.”
A lot of information about Sun Studio, and all the greats that passed through its doors is on Wikipedia:
They have especially great pictures you don’t often see of Elivis.
April 22, 2013
The motorhome is still parked at VFW Post #10567 in Southaven, Mississippi. The location is about 1/4 mile south of the Tennessee Border and about 10 miles south of the City of Memphis. We are now expecting to depart on Thursday.
Yesterday I drove the Bronco the about 10 miles to downtown Memphis. We arrived at Sun Studio, the self-proclaimed Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was here that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and others made their famous early musical recordings. You can read all about the history of Sun Studio by clicking this Wikipedia link…
In general, photography conditions were terrible. Outside…harsh sunlight. Inside…darkish with mini spotlights and just about everything worth photographing was covered with plastic or glass making for lots of reflection. Then…also, there were lots of people to get in the way. Nonetheless…here are some of the photos that I took…
As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…
The original Sun Studio through which this door these folks entered both before they were and after they became famous…
The sign in front of the above building…
The attached building housing the gift shop, administrative offices and museum area…
These photos are on the outside of the above building…
We arrived at 10:00 AM hoping there would be few people for the first tour at 10:30 PM…not! This is where you buy your tour tickets…in the gift shop…
A real-live Honky Tonk Angel. At least that’s what it says on her chest…
Our tour guide was to be Lahna Deering…a musician still seeking international fame. She proved to be a bubbly and knowledgeable personality. You can listen to some of her music and find out all about her and her partner by clicking their official website link…
Time for the tour at last. Heading into the museum area I made it a point to be first in line so I could shoot a photo with no people in the way…
Sam Phillips was the owner of Sun Studio at that time…
In addition to explaining the museum’s exhibits, Lahna played us some partial early Sun Studio recordings…
She told us that originally Sun Studio was called the Memphis Recording Service…
Time to now go to the original recording studio area. This is what the reception area looked like back then…
Through the door into the studio where once again Lahna played more early recordings for us…
Using (supposedly) the same microphone that was used by Elvis…Mary belts out a tune…
Back to the gift shop area…
Then outside where a waiting shuttle bus was delivering a new load and waiting for departing tourists…
It proved to be an interesting visit despite the crowd. I would have preferred it to be like my tour through the Norman Petty Recording Studio in Clovis, New Mexico where Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings and others made their early recordings. On that tour I was the only person because Clovis is out in the middle of nowhere rather than a large city like Memphis. If you missed that Blog entry…here’s the link…
Here’s the link to the museum…
After our time at Sun Studio, Mary’s neck started bothering her again so we called it a day. Must have been belting out that tune that did it!
Enjoying interesting historic places and museums is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!
The red dot on the below map shows our approximate location near Memphis in the State of Tennessee. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…
Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein
On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!
Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.
If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2013
For more information about my three books, click this link:
September 22, 2010
Yesterday my good friend Randy and I went to the National Automobile Museum…the remains of the Harrah automobile collection. We spent a very enjoyable 3.5 hours viewing the over 200 automobiles. The thing I found most interesting was the perfection of restoration. All the vehicles with the exception of a couple of minor flaws were in “showroom condition”.
Some of the autos in the museum were owned by folks like Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Al Jolson, Lana Turner, John Wayne, John Kennedy and Andy Griffith.
In the meantime Mary went to the Nevada Museum Of Art, only to find it closed on a Tuesday. She intends to go today.
Here are 13 photos that I took…
To see the other 93 photos, click this link…
Here’s the official Natiional Automobile Museum website link…
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
My three books may be purchased at http://www.lulu.com
Just enter Jim Jaillet in the search box.
August 28, 2010
Our motor home is a Fleetwood Terra, and I’m pleased with its performance, its ability to pull hills, gas mileage and other aspects of this vehicle/home. We spend a lot of time in it and we must give up some comforts in exchange for the life on the road. Its an envious life-style, we’ve learned, as you meet and greet people in all types of situations. Ours seems a romantic life of constant entertainment. And, it is. Yet our reality is filled with the everyday chores and particulars of living well in a tight space. It doesn’t work for everybody.
Jim was bent on visiting the Fleetwood Factory and taking their factory tour. I’m glad I went, even though it sometimes felt like a sales presentation in that, you are satisfied with our product, here is what you have to look forward to when you upgrade. The behemoths above, 42 and 44 feet in length, with slide-outs have very fancy interiors.
The other two couples on the tour mentioned their likes and dislikes about their motor homes which are similar to these in style. Obviously, a perfect one will never be made.
They pre-sell to dealers before building their motorhomes. From the parking lot, they seem to be doing very well. (No pictures allowed in the factory.)
Our friends, Pat and Richard have a very nice, well built trailer parked nearby. Richard commented that he would buy a motor home when he wins the Magazine Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. We all laughed.
Fleetwood does not make the biggest motor home, but one of the best to be sure. It was nice to see how they are put together, the quality that goes into them; the efficiency of the company, and the way they treat their employees. For me, it validated our choice of this particular motor home and its attributes.
After the tour, Richard and Pat took us to a real fifties diner; one with autographs of local high school coaches and real student class sweaters and memorabilia hanging from the walls and ceilings. It was such fun to be inside this place with every piece of memorabilia bringing back memories.
We met Elvis and Marilyn at the door of Arnolds Diner which is located in Decatur.
Jim used to wear his hair like James Dean, and identified with his wild, independent image just a bit, as we all did at that age.
Arnold’s still uses car hops at night, on roller skates, dressed in their poodle skirts; saddle shoes on the inside at lunch. The walls and ceilings are just stacked with memorabilia.
This old dial pay phone…
A pair of speakers from a drive in movie.
Coke bottle fan blades.
A Schwinn bicycle hangs from the ceiling and an old Mobile gas pump greets you at the door.
Richard and Pat had no way of knowing that we had watched a nostalgic video the night before about Doo Wop music. Arnold’s Diner was the perfect choice. The food was standard fifties fare “improved” meaning very good tasting and hearty servings. We ended the meal with tin lizzie sundaes, (spanish peanuts over hot fudge on vanilla ice cream.) My soda shop from high school days called it a tin roof sundae. It was great fun, with wonderful memories. Then, we had to say goodbye.
It will be several years before we meet again.