“Well, that’s all right, mama
That’s all right for you
That’s all right mama, just anyway you do
Well, that’s all right, that’s all right.
That’s all right now mama, anyway you do …”
“That´s All Right” was the first single released by Elvis Presley. In 1954, he began his unstoppable career with a small recording studio on the corner of Union and Sam Phillips Avenues in Memphis.
As ones who love Elvis Presley´s music, we had long wanted to see the real studio that launched the King of Rock ´n Roll. So, we packed our bags and crossed the Atlantic in order to pay tribute to him by visiting iconic landmarks such as his Birthplace & Museum in Tupelo, Graceland and the legendary Sun Records Studio.
A Humble Studio Steeped in History
We arrived early in the morning. We couldn´t wait any longer to be in the same right place where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins got their start.
We walked through the door and were greeted enthusiastically by the staff. “Hey guys, where do you come from, California, Florida…?”, “No, we come from Spain” we said timidly.
“Oh, really? Hey, we´ve got two Spaniards in da house!! Loquillo (a Spanish singer) visited us not so long ago as well“, he said with an open smile. As we waited for the guided tour, we pleasantly had a coffee and bought some souvenirs at the Rock shop, which was heaven for fans like us.
And the TOUR began…
We were led upstairs where our wonderful guide explained us the fascinating history behind the Sun Records and how Sam Phillips became the Father of Rock and Roll. Sam Phillips, the founder of legendary Sun Records, launched his company in 1952 willing to listen anyone who desired to record.
In 1953, a young Elvis Presley walked into the Sun Studios to record a few songs as a birthday present to his mother. It was very interesting to know he paid $3.98 for the recording of his version of “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin“.
Marion Kreisler, a popular radio show host and Sam Philips’ assistant, was that day on the studio. It was her who impressed by the boy´s potential, suggested Phillips that he record Presley on Sun the following year.
In 1954, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black recorded “That’s Alright (Mama)” becoming Elvis’ first hit. When Sam Phillips heard Elvis singing an unrehearsed version of that song, he knew that was precisely the groundbreaking sound he was looking for.
That boy had the Negro sound and Negro feel that would lead to make a billion dollars in the white market. Phillips who had always been interested in black music, found in Elvis a way to bring black music to anyone breaking down the barriers between black and white music.
During the tour, we had the chance to see the office where Marion and Elvis first met and a varied collection of Rock n´ Roll memorabilia from the 50s.
Apart from photographs, instruments and records, we particularly loved seeing Elvis´High School Diploma as we had visited Humes High School the day before.
The Birthplace Of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Sun Records is considered the first great Rock ‘n’ Roll record label. Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls Of Fire” was one of the studio’s most successful hits and Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” became Sun’s first million seller.
It´s hard to put into words how it feels to be in the same studio where Rock ‘n’ Roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins recorded the classic “Million Dollar Quartet” Jam session on December 4, 1956.
The recording studio is quite small and except for the pictures lining the walls, it remains practically untouched which makes it very special. There´s an ‘X’ on the floor marking the exact spot where Elvis recorded. In 2003, the Sun Studio was declared a National Historic Landmark.