Thursday, May 5, 2011

The sun was shining today

Can you tell what's shown above? If you said it must be a Hard Rock Cafe, that would be a good guess, but wrong.

I went to Sun Studio today for a tour. It's an unimpressive looking place that has an impressive pedigree. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison are just a few of the white singers who got their start there. B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner and Howlin' Wolf are black artists who recorded there. No wonder it claims to be the birthplace of Rock 'n Roll.

Above: Sun is actually the name of a record label. This place was originally called the Memphis Recording Service and Sam Phillips recorded singers and sold the music to companies such as Chess Records. Later Phillips decided to sell them himself and created Sun Records. One year he traveled 60,000 miles in his car to visit radio stations to promote his artists. Despite the early success, he eventually went bankrupt. Phillips had Elvis Presley signed to a three-year contract, but sold it (to RCA Records) for $35,000. That was a lot of money back then, and he needed it to keep his business afloat.

Above: The recording methods were very crude by today's standards. Note the reel-to-reel tape recorder and the stand-up bass. The photo is of B.B. King. The electric guitar belonged to Johnny Cash.

If you entered the recording studio back in the Fifties, you would see this desk shown above. Notice the manual typewriter. Notice the fans and the old-fashioned phone.

Above: Various artist have recorded there since its heyday, if only to pay homage. U2 is probably the most famous. They recorded "When love comes to town" there as a duet with BB King. The photo isn't U2, it's some other guy.

Images by MOJO and taken with my P&S.


  1. Just move to Memphis? :)

    OK, I am worse.

  2. I gotta see that. Very cool!

  3. What a coincidence.... wearing my Sun t-shirt today. Looks like you had fun.

  4. Oh, that's not Bono? Ya could have fooled me. ;-)

    Very interesting post!

  5. I remember this place from my youth (pictures of it!)...and all those recording items are familiar to me...I had the manual typewriter, the old phone, the reel-to-reel, the old recording machines...

    Those were the good ol' days. And in the 50s, Lois and I had 45s of Elvis and other artists...

    Hope that you're doing OK. I read today of some evacuations near Memphis because of rising waters...