Where We Be
Here we are, taking our turn at becoming music legends!
Sun Studios & Beale St. -- Memphis, TN
Sun Studios is not much to look at from the outside, but it is nevertheless the world's best candidate for the "Birthplace of Rock and Roll"
Sam Phillips started the recording studio in 1950 and recorded Elvis' first big hit
The actual recording studio is not much to look at, is it? But it has hosted so many rock and roll legends it has become a Mecca of sorts.
Talk about underwhelming! This is the anteroom to the recording studio. But people like Elvis Presley stood right here and got their start by talking
to the secretary, Marion Keisker, who used to sit here. Elvis apparently made an impression on her and she passed his name on to Sam Phillips.
The photo above the piano shows Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley. By sheer chance they happened to show up at Sun Studios
on the same day (December 4, 1956) and sat down for an impromptu recording session that has since been called the greatest rock jam session of all time!
We each took our turn at the microphone, with Elvis in the background for inspiration. This was an actual mike used by stars like Elvis back in the 1950s.
It was fun to hear the stories of the early rock and roll legends who got their start right here
After our tour of Sun Studios, we headed to nearby Beale Street, which bills itself as "The Home of the Blues" (not to mention "Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll")
Beale Street comes alive at night, so our daytime tour doesn't really do it justice. The place is brimming with live music joints that are jumping in the evening.
Jerry Lee Lewis' big hit was "Great Balls of Fire"
We read good things on TripAdvisor about Blues City Cafe, and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch of BBQ ribs, tamales, chili, beans, slaw, and fries
We like the slogan above the cook's head: "Put Some 'South' in Your Mouth"
Kinda sorry we didn't get to try these!
The first room you enter on the tour is filled with memorabilia from the earliest days of rock and roll
Gibson is world-famous for its guitars. We got to hear an impromptu jam session by musicians trying out some of the instruments here.
This is Elvis Presley's actual high school diploma. Memphis and Elvis go way back!
These stuffed chickens look aghast at the sign just behind them
Our final stop of the day was at the famous Gibson Guitar Factory just off Beale Street
After taking the factory tour we really appreciated the work that goes into making each instrument. It takes about three weeks to build a single guitar.
We don't normally include parking garages on our website, but this one on Union Street really was kinda fun with its brightly painted kiosk
We expected to pop into the showroom for a quick look around but ended up taking the half-hour factory tour -- which we highly recommend  [Not my photos]
Our day started with a tour of one of the most
famous recording studios in the world, Sun
Studios. Our group filed into a small room filled
with memorabilia from the beginning days of
rock and roll. We learned how Sam Phillips
opened the recording studio in January 1950
and called it the Memphis Recording Service.
This was just before the age of rock and roll, so
he was primarily recording music for Memphis-
based blues and R&B artists like B.B. King. We
learned how Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats
recorded what is now considered the first rock
and roll single, called "Rocket 88," in 1951. Not
long afterwards, Elvis Presley showed up as an
18-year-old just out of high school and recorded
his first song. A year later he recorded “That’s
All Right” at the studio, and the song proved so
popular it launched his career. These events
lend credence to the studio's claim that it is the
"Birthplace of Rock and Roll." The actual studio
where the recordings happened is small and
rather drab, to be honest, with linoleum floors
and baffled walls -- but if those walls could talk.
They've seen the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny
Cash, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner,
Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and dozens more.
'50s state-of-the-art recording equipment
"Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats
(1951) is now considered the first rock and roll single
Elvis stood on this spot