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The Online Roots of Rock

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Sam Phillips
January 5, 1923 — July 30, 2003


Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley in the Memphis Recording Services studio
Sam Phillips at his tape console and cutting lathe
Sun Records sleeve and disk
These photos capture moments in the birth of Rock 'n' Roll. LEFT: Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley pose in the tiny studio of Sam's Memphis Recording Service. CENTER: Sam proudly sits before his tape console and cutting lathe. RIGHT: The label that started it all!

"If I could find a white man
who had the Negro sound, and the Negro feel,
I could make a million dollars"
SAM PHILLIPS, 1953


Samuel Cornelius Phillips
Sam Phillips is the single, most important record producer in the story of Rock 'n' Roll. He repackaged Country and Blues and sold the hybrid sound as Rock 'n' Roll.
His achievement was no accident, for Phillips had a sense of time and place. During the late 1940s he was a radio announcer at WREC in Memphis, where he became increasingly bored with the Big Band and Country music he was programming.
Sam loved the vitality of Blues, and in 1950 opened his own recording studio, Memphis Recording Service, where he loved to record the itinerant Blues musicians up from the Mississippi delta.
In 1953 Sam established Sun Records, essentially a Blues label recording such black artists as James Cotton, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Little Junior Parker, and many others.
Inspired by their music Sam often said, "If I could find a white man who had the Negro Sound, and the Negro feel, I could make a million dollars."
When 18-year-old Elvis Presley walked through the door in the summer of '53, Sam had found his white man.
Phillips' roster of talent became increasingly white, and soon included Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Bill Justis, Ace Cannon, Charlie Rich, and many other Rockabilly pioneers.
Sun Records produced its biggest hits between 1954 and 1959, after which time Phillips had lost his brightest stars.
The music, too, had changed. As the major labels climbed aboard the Rock 'n' Roll bandwagon, the pioneering Rockabilly rebels were succumbing to manufactured, but marketable, teen idols singing love and novelty songs to an adolescent market.
Sam Phillips was a visionary who found his time and place. He democratized popular music in America by fusing white roots music with black roots music to create a universal folk music — Rock 'n' Roll.

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The Online Roots of Rock


.Featured Sites .

Sam Phillips website
Sam Phillips - The Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll website
Sam Phillips - The Sun Record Company
tribute page in
Rockabilly Hall of
Fame
official studio tour
and memorabilia
click on the history button

Other Recommended Sites
The Sun Records Label Story
by David Edwards and Mike Callahan
Founding Father
bio with pics by Eric P. Olsen
Sam Phillips' Sun Records
detailed bio with pics


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Good Rockin'
Tonight
Sun Records
Sun Records
Catalyst
Good Rockin' Tonight - Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll
Sun Records - An Oral History
Sun Records - The Brief History of the Legendary Recording Label
Catalyst - The Sun Records Story
Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll
"The definitive history of the definitive indie label."
by Colin Escott
with Martin Hawkins
An Oral History
(For the Record)
by John Floyd (Editor), Dave Marsh, John Marsh
The Brief History of the Legendary Recording Label
by Colin Escott
The Sun Records Story
by Colin Escott


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Sun Records:
50th Anniversary Box
The Best of
Sun Records:
50th Anniversary Edition
Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records
 Sun Records  - 50th Anniversary Box Set
The Best of Sun Records
Good Rockin' Tonight - The Legacy  of Sun Records
The Original Sun Masters
Varese Records
Box Set / 3 CDs / 75 tracks
Direct Source Label
1 CD
Sire/WEA
1 CD / 16 tracks

The Sun Records
Collection
Sun Records
25 All-Time Greatest Hits
Spotlite On
Sun Records
The Sun Records Collection
Sun Records - 25 All-Time Greatest Hits
Spotlight on SunRecords
Wea/Atlantic/Rhino
Box Set / 3 CDs / 74 tracks
Varese Records
1 CD / 25 tracks
excluding Elvis
Collectables Records
Vol 1 - 14 tracks
Vol 2 - 14 tracks

Other Sun Recordings Available Online
The Legendary Story of Sun Records (Metro / 2 CDs / 60 tracks) )
Very Best of Sun Rockabilly (Charly / 1 CD )
Carl Perkins: Original Sun Greatest Hits (Wea/Atlantic/Rhino / 1 CD / 16 tracks)
Sun Records Harmonica Classics (Rounder Special Series / 1 CD / 14 tracks)


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Good Rockin' Tonight - The Legacy of Sun Records
A&E Biography
2000
info / order online
VHS | DVD
info / order online
1990
VHS | DVD


The Online Roots of Rock
the online roots of rock

The Online Roots of Rock
100 Years of Popular Music in America
from a Rock 'n' Roll perspective

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