Sam Phillips opened the door to Memphis Recording Service (now known as Sun Studio) on January 3, 1950. The following year, it earned the title of the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll” when Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner recorded the song Rocket 88.
Sam broke all the rules in the music business – not because he was a rebel, but because he just didn’t know the rules. According to the Sun Studio website,
“He didn’t know not to use much echo… a three-piece band sounded like an all-night party! He didn’t know not to crank the amp up so high that it distorted. He didn’t know not to blend the musical styles – or that it wasn’t supposed to be sheer passion and fun. Rock N’ Roll was created – with all these wonderful mistakes.”
Once things really got to rocking at Sun Studio, several musicians and singers in the Memphis area wanted to be part of what was going on at 706 Union Ave. One of those hopeful musicians was a shy 18 year-old named Elvis Presley.
In July of 1953, Elvis walked into the studio with a dime-store guitar and a desire to record “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” for his mother.
This is where the story got a little surprising for me. I always assumed Elvis walked in, sang a few bars, knocked the socks off the people at the studio, and walked out the King of Rock N’ Roll.
The truth is that, while Sam Phillips could see some raw potential in Elvis, he just wasn’t sure what to do with him. As the story goes, Elvis hung around the studio for almost a full year before he was given another opportunity. Marion Keisker, who worked with Sam Phillips, remembered him and convinced him to give Elvis a shot.
Sam brought him back to record a couple of songs. But again, he was just not that impressed.
Then, a couple of months later, Elvis was in the studio again and started playing “That’s All Right (Mama).” Something caught Sam’s attention, and he began to record the track….which became a hit on Memphis radio and would soon spread across the nation.
The rest is Rock ‘N Roll history.
It would have been easy for Elvis to give up on his dreams in the face of adversity, but he persisted. What are your aspirations? What kind of history do you dream of making?
Is there a Sam Phillips in your life who was not too impressed with your first effort? If so, did you stay on the trail like a “Hound Dog” or did you find yourself “Crying in the Chapel?”
Don’t quit. Don’t let one person’s opinion stifle your dream. Stick around, and keep on singing. Who knows what could happen?