Memphis - visit Sun Records - birth of Rock'nRoll

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Oct 16, 2007

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A totally unexpected day as we visit Memphis Recording Service where, back in 1953, Elvis Presley, in an attempt to leave his metal-turning job, asks to make a demo tape at Sam Phillip's Sun Records. He sees the receptionist who makes a short tape and she plays it to Sam later. Sam is very impressed and teams him up with two other guys and they play country for 3 hours. Sam was about to give up with him when they play a final song and merge country, blues and popular song to create rock'n roll.

Summer, 1953, Elvis went to the Memphis Recording Service, played his guitar and made his first demo record. He sang My Happiness and That's When Your Heartaches Begin.
July 5, 1954, Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black formed a group and recorded That's All Right for Sun Records

Two years later Sam "sells" Elvis to RCA Victor for the previously unheard of sum of $35,000. The rest is history.

However the day commenced at Customs and Immigration, where the official we saw told us it was the Border Control people who had to decide our case - but an ex-BC person there told her it seemed as though it would be ok to stay the extra day. We've got to call another guy on Thursday - hopefully we can sort this out soon.

The weather was baking - high 80s and clear blue sunny skies.We drove into downtown Memphis to the famous Beale Street with all the blues bars.

We had an excellent meal in one of them and then seemed to meet endless Brits. One couple had always wanted to come to see Graceland, it had taken them 28 hours after a flight via Chicago to Memphis - they were staying at the Heartbreak hotel next to Graceland. He'd never flown before and also didn't want to drive in the States - seemed like a huge adventure for them. Later we met another couple who knew all the spots - which was lucky 'cos we hadn't a clue.

We ended up at Sun records but we could also have gone to Stax Records, taken a trip round the Gibson guitar factory in town or found the hotel where Dr Martin Luther King was shot.

Finally we ended up in the Peabody Hotel to see the daily ritual of the Peabody ducks retiring to bed. In 1923 two hunters, upon their return to the hotel, left their decoy ducks in the hotel fountain after a trip which had ended in partaking of some sipping whiskey. After recovering in their rooms they were very surprised to find the ducks still there when they came down. Ducks have stayed in the fountain ever since, but apparantly only for 3 months before being taken to a life of retirement.

Memphis is our favourite town so far we think, downtown is small, friendly, feels safe and has plently to do.So definitely a place to re-visit on another trip.

One other thing - we've been woken at 3am both nights with about an hour of endless huge jets taking off from the nearby airport - they fly right overhead the hotel. We hadn't heard any during the day. Seems that FedEx have a huge hub in Memphis and all the planes leave for their various destinations at this time - it's like the Berlin airlift, they seem to leave every minute.
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


dianaj on

Is it getting colder as you go north? It's like August here - which is, of course, not good (although it does look and feel lovely).

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: