How one man discovered B. B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, and how his tiny label, Sun Records of Memphis, revolutionised the world.
Rock 'n' roll was born in rural Alabama, 1923, in the form of Sam Phillips, the youngest son of a large family living in a remote colony called the Lovelace Community. His father had a gift for farming, which was brought to an end by the Depression. His mother picked guitar and showed the kind of forbearance that allowed her to name her son after the doctor who delivered him drunk and then had to be put to bed himself. And yet from these unprepossessing origins, in 1951 Phillips made what is widely considered to be the first rock 'n' roll record, Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket 88'.
Just two years later a shy eighteen-year-old kid with sideburns, fresh out of high school, wandered into his recording studio to make a record 'for his mother', secretly hoping that it might somehow get him noticed. His name was Elvis Presley. Elvis's success, and the subsequent triumph of rock 'n' roll, was initially propelled to an almost astonishing degree by a limited number of releases by Carl 'Blue Suede Shoes' Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis - all from this tiny, one-man label.
An engaging mix of biography and anecdote, Peter Guralnick's book brilliantly recreates one shining moment in the history of popular culture. And Sam Phillips was the man who brought it all about.
Peter Guralnick is the author of several highly acclaimed books, including Lost Highway, Sweet Soul Music, Searching for Robert Johnson, and the novel Nighthawk Blues. His two-volume biography of Elvis, published as Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, is widely regarded as definitive. His essays on Elvis Presley in the 1992 and 1993 boxed sets The Complete '50s Masters and The Essential '60s Masters were both nominated for Grammy Awards and he won a Grammy for his liner notes to Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club.
Peter Guralnick lives in Massachusetts.
Visit his website at http://www.peterguralnick.com/
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