A Memphis Music Legend Is Established – Today In Country Music History [VIDEO]
January 3rd, 1950
Sam Phillips opens the Sun Recording Studio, originally known as the Memphis Recording Service, at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis. Reputedly the first rock and roll single, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats' "Rocket 88" was recorded there in 1951 with song composer Ike Turner on keyboards, leading the studio to claim status as the birthplace of rock & roll. Blues and R&B artists like Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker, Little Milton, B.B. King, James Cotton, Rufus Thomas, and Rosco Gordon recorded there in the early 1950s.
It becomes a site for sessions by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. On December 4th. 1956 the studio played host to an impromptu recording session featuring Presley, Cash, Perkins and Lewis, which would be dubbed "The Million Dollar Quartet." The tapes of this session would remain lost until 1969 when new studio owner Shelby Singleton began going through over 10,000 hours of tapes in the studio archives, but remained unreleased until 1981.
The jam session seems to have happened by pure chance. Perkins had come into the studios that day, accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay and by drummer W.S. Holland. The quartet's aim was to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, "Matchbox". Phillips wanted to try to fatten thie original sparse rockabilly instrumentation, had brought in his latest acquisition, Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play piano on the session. Sometime in the early afternoon, 21-year-old Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend.
After chatting with Phillips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of Perkins’ session, which he pronounced to be good. Then he went out into the studio and some time later the jam session began. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had recently enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in, but would leave soon after the first few tracks would be completed, citing family obligations. Elvis and his guest slipped out as Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano.
Cash would later write in his autobiography, Cash, that "no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis."
The album LeAnn Rimes album is certified platinum. The album was made up of covers of country standards and featured just one new song, the single “Big Deal” (#6), and it became the first release to receive a sales award in the new millennium.
2009 – Rascal Flatts – “Here”
2004 – Kenny Chesney – “There Goes My Life”
1998 – Garth Brooks – “Longneck Bottle”
1987 – Hank Williams, Jr. – “Mind Your Own Business”
1981 – Johnny Lee – “One In A Million”
1976 – C.W. McCall – “Convoy”
1970 – David Houston – “Baby, Baby (I Know You Are A Lady)”
1953 – Hank Williams – “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)”
1948 – Eddy Arnold – “I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)
2009 – Taylor Swift – Fearless
2004 – Toby Keith – Shock’n Y’all
1998 – Garth Brooks – Sevens
1987 – Alabama – The Touch
1981 – Kenny Rogers – Greatest Hits
1976 – C.W. McCall – Black Bear Road
1970 – Charley Pride – The Best Of
Steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe is born on this date in 1917, in Houston. He plays steel guitar for Bob Wills' Texas Playboys from 1935-1942, then earns an instrumental hit on his own in 1949 with "Panhandle Rag." His Wills credits include "Right Or Wrong" and "Cherokee Maiden."
McAuliffe funded a music program at Rogers State College in Claremore, Oklahoma, paying for a recording studio and office on campus. McAuliffe was always giving to his students, featuring them in his concerts around northeastern Oklahoma. He died after a long illness on August 20, 1988 in Tulsa.