Sun Studio is Memphis’ very own mecca of music. Knowledgeable tour guides, who are Rock N’ Roll musicians or music engineers, will lead you through time and enrich you with so much information that you never knew about the big bang creation of Rock N’ Roll at the most famous recording studio in the world.
The Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll
In January of 1950, Radio Engineer Sam Phillips opened Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee where legendary bluesmen like BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Bobbly Blue Band, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton, Junior Parker, and Joe Hill Lewis recorded their first records. In March of 1951, Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats, with Ike Turner on the piano, recorded “Rocket 88” at Sun Studio. The song is considered, by most music historians, to be the very first “Rock N’ Roll” song. This song led Sam Phillips to start his own record label in 1952, called the Sun Label. Merion Keisker, business manager of Sun Studio, greeted teenage Elvis Presley to Sun Studio in 1953. Phillips invited the young Elvis back in 1954 to team up with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. The team was having no luck together and Sam told the boys to take a break. During the break, Elvis belted out a song he picked up in blues clubs. He sung “That’s All Right” with raw honesty of the blues and the wildness of a country hoedown. Sam Phillips transformed Elvis from a total no one to the most sought after singer in the country. His first five records recorded at Sun Studio merged Blues, Country, and Gospel music into an innovative sound that ultimately changed music forever.
An actual Rock N’ Roll musician and or music engineer will guide you through a two part tour. One of two parts is a gallery filled with amazing Rock N’ Roll possessions and memorabilia from the legendary musicians like Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, B.B. King, Little Milton, Roy Orbison, Rosco Gordon, Elvis Presley and many more! Most of these items carry an interesting inside story or two, which your guide will be sure to tell you about.
Another great part of the tour is an authentic National Historic Landmark, the Sun Records Recording Studio. Here visitors will experience first-hand the very microphone Elvis Presley used and the place he stood to record his first song “That’s All Right” in 1954. Relive the early Rock N’ Roll era with first hand recordings and session outtakes as well as learn all about how Blues and Country music fused together and resulted in “the big bang of Rock N’ Roll.” . Today, the birthplace of Rock N’ Roll is still creating magic and keeping musical heritage alive with artists like U2, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Maroon 5, Def Leppard and more!
Sun Studio Soda Shop and Record Store
After touring the studio, visit the Sun Studio Soda Shop and Record Store, filled with Sun recordings, books, concert posters and other unique memorabilia. Last but not least, the 50’s style milkshake shop offers some of the best handmade malts and milkshakes in town!
- Recording studio and shop are wheelchair accessible; however there are 12 steps leading up to the gallery portion of the tour
- Photography is permitted
- On site gift shop and café