Wednesday, December 2, 2015



“It’s one for the money,
Two for the show,

Three to get ready,
Now go cat go!”

      Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes

By Doc Lawrence

The first time I walked in Sun Studios, the fabled recording shrine on Union Avenue in Memphis, I recalled Bob Dylan saying that when he made his maiden entrance there, he fell to his knees and kissed the floor. For a photo-op, I was provided with one of Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitars by a relative of the man who author Peter Guralnick says invented rock and roll.

Perhaps no one person invented this music, but Guralnick makes a convincing case over his brilliant 700-plus page book that we would have some pretty bland music and a very boring world were it not for the remarkable efforts of Sun Studio’s Sam Phillips.
Sam with the young King

Just in time for the holidays, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n’ Roll, (Little, Brown and Company), is a tour de force of the South’s vernacular music, beginnings that have no end. 

For those millions who came of age assisted by the recordings and performances of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, B.B. King  Carl Perkins and a few dozen more music legends, Guralnick’s expert storytelling connects the genius of Phillips with the destiny of these singers who might have fallen into the abyss of obscurity without his faith in their voices and talents.

Guralnick, who also wrote the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biographies, Last Train to Memphis, and Careless Love, knows the landscape of rock music’s evolution. His biography of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records, documents the introduction of a sound the world was waiting for. An Alabama native, Sam Phillips, consistently color blind and blessed with an open mind, was able to bring forth white and black voices largely from the rural South, launching a celebration of integrated harmonies and rhythms that would forever transform popular culture.
B.B. King

For those who love good rocking day or night, this is the holiday gift that stimulates priceless memories and pays tribute to the one man who made everything possible. Thomas Jefferson didn’t exactly invent America, but as a Founding Father, he was instrumental in its creation. Trusting his better angels, Sam Phillips recognized the magic embedded in the amazing men and women, who, when given the opportunity, would put some everlasting joy in the universe.

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