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Rock 'n' roll pioneer Sam Phillips dead
AP ^ | 7/30/03

Posted on 07/30/2003 9:39:24 PM PDT by Valin

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis Presley and helped usher in the rock 'n' roll revolution, died Wednesday. He was 80.
Phillips died at St. Francis Hospital, spokeswoman Gwendolyn McClain said. No details were immediately available about the cause of death or how long he had been hospitalized.

Phillips founded Sun Records in Memphis in 1952 and helped launch the career of Presley, then a young singer who had moved from Tupelo, Miss.
He produced Presley's first record, the 1954 single that featured ``That's All Right, Mama'' and ``Blue Moon of Kentucky.''
``God only knows that we didn't know it would have the response that it would have,'' Phillips said in an interview in 1997.
``But I always knew that the rebellion of young people, which is as natural as breathing, would be a part of that breakthrough,'' he said.

Phillips was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2000, the A&E cable network ran a two-hour biography called ``Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll.''
``When I first heard Elvis, the essence of what I heard in his voice was such that I knew there might be a number of areas that we could go into,'' Phillips said.
Presley was good with ballads, Phillips recalled, but there was no need to challenge the established balladeers like Perry Como, Frankie Laine and Bing Crosby.
``What there was a need for was a rhythm that had a very pronounced beat, a joyous sound and a quality that young people in particular could identify with,'' he said.

By 1956, when Phillips sold Presley's contract to RCA for $35,000, the rock 'n' roll craze had become a cultural phenomenon and a multimillion-dollar industry.
``It all came out of that infectious beat and those young people wanting to feel good by listening to some records,'' Phillips said.
Presley died in 1977 at age 42.

Phillips began in music as a radio station engineer and later as a disc jockey. He started Sun Records so he could record both rhythm & blues singers and country performers, then called country and western or hillbilly singers.
His plan was to let artists who had no formal training play their music as they felt it, raw and full of life. The Sun motto was ``We Record Anything, Anywhere, Anytime.''
In the early days, before Presley, Phillips worked mostly with black musicians, including B.B. King and Rufus Thomas.
After the success of Presley on Sun, others who recorded for the label under Phillips included Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich.
``We were starting from scratch together,'' Phillips said in 2000.

He got out of the recording business in 1962 and sold Sun Records in 1969 to producer Shelby Singleton of Nashville. The Sun studio on Union Avenue in Memphis still exists as a tourist attraction.
In his later years, Phillips spent much of his time operating radio station WLVS in Memphis and others in Alabama. He stayed out of the limelight except for some appearances at Presley-related events after Presley's death.
``I'll never retire. I'm just using up somebody else's oxygen if I retire,'' he said in an Associated Press interview in 2000.

Born Samuel Cornelius Phillips in Florence, Ala., Phillips worked as an announcer at radio stations in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Decatur, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn., before settling in Memphis in 1945. Before founding Sun Records, he was a talent scout who recommended artists and recordings to record labels such as Chess and Modern. He also worked as an announcer in Memphis.
His sons Knox and Jerry also were record producers.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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1 posted on 07/30/2003 9:39:24 PM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin
Sad news. He played a huge role in the creation of Rock n' Roll.
2 posted on 07/30/2003 9:41:07 PM PDT by proust (Hello, Cthulhu!)
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To: Valin
This has been a hard year for the loss of creative talent.
3 posted on 07/30/2003 9:47:33 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Valin
I saw an interview with Phillips a few years ago, and he seemed as awed by what he'd seen in the music industry as anyone... I liked his style
4 posted on 07/30/2003 9:53:47 PM PDT by IncPen
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To: Valin
RIP Sam Philips.
5 posted on 07/30/2003 9:53:57 PM PDT by Reagan Man
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To: proust
Lets see Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich, Carl Perkins, Elvis.
Not bad, not bad at all.
6 posted on 07/30/2003 9:58:55 PM PDT by Valin (America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.)
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To: Valin
I swear, after this year, all we're gonna be left with is Ben and Jen.

And then what are we gonna do?

7 posted on 07/30/2003 10:35:51 PM PDT by small_l_libertarian
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To: small_l_libertarian
Avoid seeing Gigli regardless.
8 posted on 07/30/2003 11:17:52 PM PDT by xp38
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To: Valin
R.I.P., Mr. Phillips.
9 posted on 07/31/2003 12:11:33 AM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: Valin
Ladies and gentlemen...Mr. Phillips has left the building...
10 posted on 07/31/2003 12:15:55 AM PDT by RichInOC (...and got real, real gone for a change.)
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To: proust
Southern Music 20th Century

In 1951, Phillips recorded "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and leased it to Chess. Often called the first rock & roll record, "Rocket 88" went to the top of the R & B charts and forced Chess, RPM, and other labels take a serious interest in Memphis music.

Rocket 88

"Rocket 88", a rhythm and blues song from 1951 claimed by Sun Records owner and pioneer rock and roll record producer Sam Phillips as "the first rock and roll song".

The record was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, but the band did not actually exist. The song was written by Ike Turner and recorded by him with his band, the Kings of Rhythm. Brenston (1930-1979) was a saxophonist with Turner and also sang the vocal on "Rocket 88", a hymn of praise to the joys of the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 automobile, which had just been introduced in 1949. Brenston also was given author credit not Turner; it is now agreed that Brenston's contribution was overstated for obscure, non-musical reasons.

Working from the raw material of jump blues and swing combo music, Turner made it even rawer, starting with a strongly stated back beat and superimposing Brenston's enthusiastic vocals and tenor saxophone solos by "Raymond" and Brenston. The song also features one of the first examples of distorted, or fuzz guitar ever recorded. Reportedly, a speaker was damaged on Highway 61 when the band was driving from Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee but Phillips liked the sound and used it.

"Rocket 88" is the prototype for hundreds of other rock and roll records in musical style and lineup, not to mention its lyrics in which an automobile serves as a metaphor for romantic prowess.

The claim that "Rocket 88" was the first rock and roll record is perhaps overstated, but it was the second-biggest rhythm and blues single of 1951 and much more influential than some other "first" claimants. "Rocket 88" was successfully covered by Bill Haley and his Comets early in his career, leading to his own impact on popular music. Turner's piano introduction was copied note for note by Little Richard on his "Lucille" several years after that.

Brenston left Turner's band after the record's success and released several more singles between 1951 and 1953, but they were slavish copies of the original and had little success. Brenston rejoined Turner's band as a saxophonist in 1957 and continued with him until 1965.

11 posted on 07/31/2003 2:31:20 AM PDT by weegee
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Trivia week ending March 9th

March 8, 1953 Rufus Thomas, a Memphis disc jockey, recorded "Bear Cat" at the Sun Studios. The song was an answer to "Hound Dog" (by "Big Mama" Thornton) and used the exact same melody. Sam Phillips was sued by Peacock Records, owner of "Hound Dog". Phillips lost and had to pay 2¢ per record royalty.

The song writers of Big Mama Thorton's hit were Leiber & Stohler. I believe that this lawsuit was what ushered in their acquaitance with Elvis Presley.

Bear Cat comes 2 years after Rocket 88 (two years to the week).

12 posted on 07/31/2003 2:37:53 AM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Side note, Little Richard briefly records some singles for Duke Peacock records in Houston Texas in 1953. This is where he meets Grady Gaines and the Upsetters, Don Robey's house band for his label.

Grady and the Upsetters later become Little Richard's backing band when he records for Specialty and appears in movies. They remain with him until he retires (to serve God).

Grady and the Upsetters become Sam Cooke's backing band (recording such hits at Twistin The Night Away). They remain with him until his untimely death. Grady survives and plays to this day in Houston.

13 posted on 07/31/2003 2:43:39 AM PDT by weegee
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Suggested Further Listening

Cynics claim that someone will someday issue every note that was ever played at 706 Union Avenue, and they're not far off. Here's a brief overview of the most useful and listen able sets available for those thrilled enough by The Sun Records Collection to want to dig deeper.

For the best of the early blues recordings, check out Blue Flames: A Sun Blues Collection (Rhino 70962) and Mystery Train (Rounder SS38). The out-of-print nine-LP box set Sun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1956 (Charly [UK] Sun Box 105) is sharp all the way through. Howlin' Wolf's Sun recordings are available in their entirety on the two CDs Memphis Days (Bear Family [Germany] BCD 15460 and 15500).

Nearly all of Elvis Presley's surviving Sun recordings appear on The Complete Sun Sessions (RCA 6414); two early demonstration recordings, as well as most of the other Sun cuts, are on The King Of Rock 'N' Roll: The Complete Masters (RCA 66050), a five-CD set. Whoever's on it, The Million Dollar Quartet is on RCA 2023.

Johnny Cash's The Sun Years (Rhino 70950) and Carl Perkins' Original Sun Greatest Hits (Rhino R2 75890) include the peak of their work with Sam Phillips and Jack Clement; the five-CD box sets Man In Black, 1954-1958 (Bear Family BCD 15517) and Classic Carl Perkins (Bear Family BCD 15494) include all of their Sun output and their first steps on major labels. Roy Orbison's The Sun Years (Rhino 70916) is a basic collection. For further country investigations, turn to Memphis Ramble: A Sun Country Collection (Rhino 70963) (Full disclosure: I worked on this last set and Rhino's Orbison Compilation.)

Jerry Lee Lewis' Sun catalog may be the most overexposed series of recordings in the history of popular music. Nevertheless, it is now easy to find the strongest collections. The killer's first two albums, Jerry Lee Lewis (Rhino 70656) and Jerry Lee's Greatest (Rhino 70657), are available, as are two fine compilations, Original Sun Golden Hits (Rhino 70255) and Rare Tracks (Rhino 70899). But eventually you'll want it all. Classic Jerry Lee Lewis (Bear Family 15420) reveals mystery after mystery over its eight packed discs. It includes nearly everything Jerry Lee recorded for Sun, along with much hilarious studio chatter, including the famed "Great Balls Of Fire" argument.

Charlie Rich's Sun sides haven't received the high-quality treatment they deserve, although two intermittently available sets are worth searching out: Original Hits and Midnight Demos (Charly[UK]CDX10) is a double album with one record of singles and one slab of un-issued takes. Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave (Zu-ZazzZ2022) includes one great session in its entirety and presents revelatory remixed versions of eight Sun recordings, with the extraneous strings and background vocals removed.

Starting in October 1994, Bear Family Records in Germany will be re-issuing every Sun and Phillips International single, both A- and B- sides in numerical sequence as The Sun Singles, Volumes 1-6 (BCD 15801-15806). For inquiries write to Bear Family Records, P.O. Box 1154, D-27727 Hambergen, Germany.
14 posted on 07/31/2003 2:45:22 AM PDT by weegee
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To: Valin
Sam Phillips may have missed out on a goldmine with Elvis Presley but he made money as one of the original investors in Holiday Inn.

He even had a dream/concept of booking some of his acts to tour the Holiday Inn chain (and even released some singles on the Holiday Inn imprint).

15 posted on 07/31/2003 2:48:20 AM PDT by weegee
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To: Valin

Norton Records has issued 14 "unreleased takes" of Sun recordings to newly pressed 45s.

These titles are available from a number of sources but well recommended (I first heard them at a bar in Amersterdam).

"Fourteen giant massive brain busting Sun label scarcities! Twenty eight humongous sides all in superb Sun/Norton sleeves! Think you've heard 'em all? Try again with this batch of brain scorchin' Memphis fryers!"

841 CARL PERKINS Her Love Rubbed Off/ KEN COOK Problem Child

842 DICK PENNER Move Baby Move/RAY GARDEN This Chick

843 JIMMY WAGES Take Me From This Garden Of Evil/TOMMY BLAKE Better Believe It

844 WARREN SMITH I Like Your Kind Of Love/ MACK VICKERY Fool Proof

845 HAROLD JENKINS Rock House/ Crazy Dreams

846 ROY ORBISON Domino/ GENE ROSS Everybody's Trying To Kiss My Baby

847 RAY HARRIS Come On Little Mama (alt take)/ JACK EARLS Take Me To That Place

848 MACK SELF I Vibrate/MACY SKIPPER Bop Pills

849 HAYDEN THOMPSON Fairlane Rock/ERNIE BARTON She's Gone Away

850 BILLY LEE RILEY She's My Baby/GENE SIMMONS Peroxide Blonde And A Hopped Up Model Ford


852 SONNY BURGESS We Wanna Boogie/Thunderbird

853 RAY HARRIS Lonely Wolf/JIMMY PRITCHETT That's The Way I Feel

854 CARL PERKINS Put Your Cat Clothes On/WARREN SMITH Stop The World

I know that Norton has also put out a Jerry Lee Lewis single with an outtake from High School Confidential (something like 3 or 4 false starts before he finally gets the intro right).

16 posted on 07/31/2003 2:59:11 AM PDT by weegee
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To: Valin
10 years ago I made a pilgrimige to Memphis & toured Sun Studios...truly hallowed ground! Sam's rockin'in heaven tonight....
17 posted on 07/31/2003 3:03:44 AM PDT by GodBlessRonaldReagan (where is Count Petofi when we need him most?)
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More detailed biography:

Sam Phillips is not just one of the most important producers in rock history. There's a good argument to be made that he is also one of the most important figures in 20th-century American culture. As owner of Sun Records and frequent producer of discs at his Sun Studios he was vital to launching the careers of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas and numerous other significant artists. Although he first made his mark (and a very deep one) with electric blues by Black performers, he will be most remembered for his rockabilly stars, particularly Elvis Presley.

Sam Phillips was born January 5, 1923, the youngest of eight children and was raised on a farm just outside Florence, Alabama. In high school Phillips conducted the school band. His onstage presence impressed the manager of local WLAY radio that he was hired as a part-time announcer. The Phillips were a typical middle class family until the Great Crash of 1929. Sam's father died in 1941 just after Pearl Harbor. He then dropped out of high school to help support his mother and deaf mute aunt. He worked first at a grocery and later a funeral home. It was while at the funeral home that Phillips learn how to handle people tactfully in emotional situations, a skill that later would serve him well.

Originally Phillips wanted to study law, but because of circumstances decided to go into radio. He went to Alabama Polytechnical Institute in Auburn, Alabama where he majored in engineering, including audio engineering for radio. In broke into radio in 1940 when he conducted and emceed the band for a college concert. This impressed Jim Connally the station manager at WLAY enough that he hired Phillips.

In 1942 he married Rebecca Burns. Phillips next radio job was for three years at WMSL in Decatur, Alabama and then to WLAC in Nashville, Tennessee and finally in June, 1945 to WREC. At WREC he hosted the "Songs of the West" show daily at 4 PM. There he was able to put his engineering skills into use. In those days many programs were prerecorded on 16 inch acetate discs which were often duplicated and passed to other stations. Thus the radio engineers were also recording engineers and thus Phillips was able to develop his recording skills. He also took care of the station's sound effects and found records for its library.

While at WREC he hosted "Saturday Afternoon Tea Dance" where he played jazz, blues and pop from the Skyway Room of the Peabody Hotel. The shows were broadcast nationally over the CBS radio network

In October 1949 Phillips signed a lease on a small storefront located at 706 Union Avenue near downtown Memphis. The rent was $150 a month. With the help of two year loan from Buck Turner a regular performer at WREC he installed recording equipment. The Memphis recording studio opened in January 1950 with the slogan "We Record Anything-Anywhere- Anytime." With a Presto five-imput mixer board and Presto PT900 portable tape recorder in the Trunk of his car, Phillips would whatever weddings, funerals or religious gatherings he could book.

Most of his early commercial recordings were done onto acetate rather than than at that time unproven tape. By 1954 he had upgraded his equipment and installed two Ampex 350 recorders: one a console model and another mounted behind his head for the tape delay echo, or slapback.

Memphis Recording Studio's first paying job was transcriptions of Buck Turner's band for the Arkansas Rural Electrification Program. These were distributed to fifteen to twenty stations throughout the mid-South. It was probably five or six months later that Phillips decided to record artists to sell or lease masters.

Phillips along with his friend Dewey Phillips decided to start their own record label. The new label was simply called Phillips - "The Hottest Thing in the Country." The first record was "Boogie in the Park" by Joe Hill Louis. On August 30, 1950 three hundred copies were pressed and shipped to Music Distribution in Memphis.

Phillips decided to get out of the manufacturing end of the business as his relationship the Biharis (Joe, Saul and Jules) Modern Records grew. The Biharis had started a subsidiary RPM Records for music with a down home feel. At first Phillips sent them samples of Joe Hill, a local gospel group and jazz pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr.

In 1950 Jules Bihari signed B.B. King to a contract and placed him with Phillips. Working under Bihari's direct Phillips recorded King from mid-1950 until June 1951. The Biharis released five singles from the material Phillips sent, making King one of the first artists on their new RPM subsidiary.Phillips' involvement with King would later end a casualty of the dispute between the Biharis and Phillips over the placing of "Rocket 88" with Chess Records.

The turning point for Phillips occurred on March 5, 1951 That was the day that Ike Turner and his band featuring Jackie Brenston drove from Clarksville, Mississippi to Memphis to see Phillips. It seems that the band had been working on a song called "Rocket 88, after the Oldsmobile that they decided to play for him.

It seems while driving from Clarksdale, guitarist Willie Kizart's amp fell off the top of the car, breaking the speaker cone. This distorted to sound making the guitar sound like a saxophone. Phillips choose to over amplify it making it the centerpiece of the rhythm track. With Kizart playing simplified boogie riff in unison with Ike Turner on piano, Raymond Hill contributed two tenor sax solos and Jackie Brenston a highly confident vocal. Phillips ran off some dubs and sent them to the Chess brothers that same night. Released on April 1951, "Rocket 88" reached the charts in May, hit number one in June and eventually became the second biggest R&B record of the year.

In the spring of 1951 Phillips recorded a demo session with Cheater Byrnett a.k.a Howkin' Wolf. Wolf recorded "How Many More Years" and "Baby Ride With Me". It is believe that Phillips sent dubs to RPM/Modern and pssibley Chess. It was almost certainly agreed that RPM agreed to sign Wolf, but this was the time Phillips was and the Biharis were having there falling out over Rocket 88 and he sold Wolf's contract to Chess. He re-recorded "How Many More Years" and "Moanin' at Midnight" which formed his first single. Howlin' Wolf's last recorded in the Sun studios in October 1952. Phillips soon became strained with the Chess Brothers which led to the founding of Sun Records.

Despite the national exposure Phillips could hardly pay the bills. He quit the radio station to concentrate his solely on recording activities. Beginning to face competition for local talent he decided to sell records through his own label. He decided to call his company Sun because he believed it was the universal power. The first Sun release in March 1952: "Drivin' Slow" was by Johnny London, a sixteen year old black saxophone player.

About this time Phillips faced a problem with the company's name. It seems there was another Sun label in Albuquerque, New Mexico that had been founded at about the same time. However nothing came of it.

Another problem was the Memphis based Duke label. Duke signed local pianist John Alexander, whom they renamed Johnny Ace. Ace's first release "My Song" became a number one R&B hit. The label then signed Bobby Bland who Phillips had recorded briefly for Chess. Poised to become a big factor in the R&B market. Success brought Duke the same problems faced by other small independents the inability to collect on the shipments of "My Song". In July 1952 they were forced to sell to Don Robey at Peacock Records in Houston.

During the summer of 1953, Elvis Presley came to the Memphis Recording Service to make a record. Presley recorded "My Happiness" and "This Is Where Your Heartache Begins" to give the record to his mother, Gladys, for a birthday present.The fact is that Gladys' birthday was in the spring and it is more likely that Presley made the record for himself, to hear how he sounded.

Either Sam Phillips or his assistant, Marion Keisker noted that Presley had a good feel for ballads and that he should be invited back.Almost a year later, in May June 1954, Keisker Phillips called Presley back for an audition. On Saturday, June 26, 1954, Elvis came to Sun Studios for an audition. He tried in vain to sing a song Sam was working with entitled, "Without You." Sam had Elvis sing most his repertoire

Sam called Scotty Moore and with Bill Black, the bass player from Scotty's band, the Starlight Wranglers, and told them to work up some material. Scotty and Bill auditioned Elvis on Sunday, the Fourth of July, 1954, at Scotty Moore's house. Scotty Moore and Bill Black were not overly impressed with the young crooner either. He could sing a little bit, and there was this indefinable quality that made you want to like him. Scotty called Sam. They agreed a session would be useful to see what they had.

On Monday evening, July 5, 1954, Elvis, Scotty and Bill went to Sun Records for their first recording session. They were nervous despite Sam Phillips' efforts to loosen things up. They worked in vain on the Bing Crosby hit, "Harbor Lights," and on the country ballad, "I Love You Because." Finally they took a break late in the evening. During the break Elvis picked up his guitar and started clowning around, playing the fool on ``That's Alright Mama," the Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup blues song. Elvis went up-tempo as first Bill, and then Scotty, joined in. In the control booth Sam Phillips heard the sound, the "new" music, he
had been looking for. He stuck his head out the door asking, "What are you doing?" The boys answered, "We don't know." Turning on the tape Sam said, "Well, back it up, try to find a place to start, and do it again." Rock n' roll was born.

During the next eighteen months Sam Phillips worked tirelessly promoting Elvis. Sam was Sun Records. He produced, engineered, and marketed the Sun label. Elvis Presley, his rising star, took all his attention. It was retail marketing,
one record distributor, one record store, at a time. Sam loaded up his Cadillac with records and hit the road, traveling from city to city sixteen hours a day. In addition he booked engagements for Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys, the name of
the new group, in venues like the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride. The Elvis Presley phenomena had begun, and its engine was Sam Phillips.

By November 1955, Elvis Presley was on the verge of mega-stardom. He was a regional sensation throughout the South. Colonel Tom Parker had taken over his management. The music world was a buzz with rumors of how Elvis would enter the national scene. Sam Phillips sold Elvis Presley's contract to RCA Victor for 25,000 dollars, the highest amount paid at that time for a recording artist. He saw it as business decision that would benefit both himself and Elvis. Elvis deserved a national record distributor, and Sam needed capitol to develop the talent that was coming to Sun Records based on Elvis's success.

With the success of Presley, other young country singers were drawn to Sun Records. Among them were Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich. Sam Phillips soon abandoned blues recording and concentrated on this new music, called rockabilly. Sun Records produced hit after hit. Carl Perkins was on the verge of major stardom with "Blue Suede Shoes," but was involved in a serious automobile accident which left him unable to cash in on his popularity. Jerry Lee Lewis had two giant smashes in "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire". On a tour of England, the newspapers revealed that Lewis had married a 13 year old girl while not legally divorced from his previous wife. Lewis had to cut the tour short and come home, his career temporarily in ruins. Jerry Lee Lewis continued recording for Sun for several years but he never recovered from the bad publicly to have a hit of the magnitude of his first two. He was able to revive his career later by moving into country music on the Mercury Record label. Johnny Cash was probably the most consistent record seller on Sun but left the label for Columbia in 1958.

In the summer of 1958 Phillips brought property on 639 Madison Avenue in Memphis a few blocks from his old studio. Having at various times it had housed a Midas Muffler Shop and Hart's Bakery, Phillips gutted the interior and installed two modern recording studios on the first floor. On the second floor were new A&R and promotion offices and tape storage vault. The final touches were by Decor by Denise

By this time Phillips had separated from his wife Becky, and was living with Sally Wilbourn, who had joined Sun in late 1955. She moved with him now as office manager, as did promotion person Barbara Barnes. Scotty Moore was brought over from Fernwood Records in June 1960 and was made studio manager and chief cutting engineer. Charles Underwood was hired as A&R manager and assistant engineer. Bill Fitzgerald, an early partner in Duke Records, was made general manager in August 1959. Cecil Scaife was hired as the promotion manager.

Shortly after opening the studio, Phillips decided to up one in Nashville. Having already leased space in the Cumberland Lodge building for his publishing companies, Phillips looked at a small studio that had been built there. After attending a recording session, Phillips bought it and hired Billy Sherill as his engineer.

The studio opened in February 1961. At the inaugural session Jerry Lee Lewis cut "What'd I Say." Two days later Charlie Rich recorded "Who Will the Next Fool Be."

Phillips sold the studio in February 1964 after a plaque of minor problems and one annoyance.In Nashville musicians worked under American Federation of Musician guidelines which called for four songs from a three hour session, with overtime pay for run overs. When Phillips attempted to bring in his own musicians he was met with opposition from the locals.

Phillips first offered the studio to Cecil Scaife, but Fred Foster of Monument Records ultimately bought it.

Attempting to maintain its market share in the 60s Phillips attempted diversification. In doing so he seem to lose focus and the records seemed to lose his own personal stamp.

Feeling Sun was to closely associated with rock and roll Phillips started Phillips International. Among the first releases was "Raunchy." This would mark the company's high point, but other hits proved to be elusive. The label was folded in 1963.

In the 60s things were changing as top selling artists were lured away from the small companies and the indie labels were bought. The days of getting a few cuts on tape, mastered, pressed and promoted for a few hundred dollars were over.

The market changed to albums with singles as loss leaders for the LP's. Phillips never believed in albums as he refused to issue inferior filler product.

Since the mid-60s Phillips had received offers to buy the company. Columbia/Capitol had been one wishing to get the Cash masters. In 1962 he had considered a deal with Mercury that fell though. Jerry Wexler from Atlantic attempt a Stax-like deal, but that nothing was finalized.

By 1969 Phillips finally founder his buyer: record executive Shelby Singleton.

Sam Phillips was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.


Sam Phillips had the good fortune to make big money and better fortune to invest it wisely. As Sun Records wound down he wisely bought radio stations, Holiday Inn stock and properties with mineral rights.

18 posted on 07/31/2003 3:25:18 AM PDT by weegee
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To: small_l_libertarian
And then what are we gonna do?

Drugs in LARGE quanities.
19 posted on 07/31/2003 4:39:01 AM PDT by Valin (America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.)
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To: Valin

20 posted on 07/31/2003 5:27:22 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (When news breaks, we fix it.)
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