January 5: The late great Sam Phillips was born in 1923

Sam Phillips, the founder of the label Sun Records, poses with Elvis Presley.

Sam Phillips was not just one of the most important producers in rock history. There’s a good argument to be made that he was also one of the most important figures in 20th century American culture.
~Richie Unterberger (allmusic.com)

Please check out the new book:

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll
Written by Peter Guralnick

COVER Guralnick_SAMPHILLIPS

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.

Another essential read for music history buffs.

If you’re not doing something different, you’re not doing anything.
~Sam Phillips

Great Sam Phillips documentary in two parts(Host: Billy Bob Thornton):

The late Sam Phillips was born in 1923

I was looking for what was coming from a man’s soul and a man’s conviction. I didn’t care about his past. If it was innate and natural and felt good to him and it communicated.
~Sam Phillips

a Sun Records Tribute (great music & great pictures):

One of the most wonderful work of art from Sun Studios: Mystery Train (Elvis Presely):

From Wikipedia:

Birth name Samuel Cornelius Phillips
Born January 5, 1923
Florence, Alabama, U.S.
Died July 30, 2003 (aged 80)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Rockabilly, Blues, Country
Occupations record producer

Samuel Cornelius Phillips (January 5, 1923 – July 30, 2003), better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s.

sam phillips

 

sun

…..Except of course that without that Sun studio, where Bob [Dylan] eventually got down and kissed the floor in homage…
~Michael Gray (bobdylanencyclopedia blog)

He was a producer, label owner, and talent scout throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He most notably founded Sun Studios and Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

sun studios

 

Through Sun, Phillips discovered such recording talent as Howlin’ Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.

When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.
~Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips & Jerry Lee Lewis

SAm Phillips Elvis Presely

The height of his success culminated in his launching of Elvis Presley’s career in 1954. He is also associated with several other noteworthy rhythm and blues and rock and roll stars of the period. Phillips sold Sun in 1969. He was an early investor in the Holiday Inn chain of hotels. He also advocated racial equality and helped break down racial music industry barriers.

I’ll never retire. I’m just using up somebody else’s oxygen if I retire.
~Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips “rolled tape until he caught magic”, he didn’t watch the clock.. He knew that great art couldn’t be forced…. patience was fundamental.
Sam always knew what he was looking for… authenticity… soul.. and he nailed it over & over. Not every day, not every week, not every month.. BUT over the years his legacy is enormous.
~ from my post “Johnny Cash – best songs @ SUN Records

In 1986 Sam Phillips was part of the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was the first ever non-performer inducted. In 1987, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 1991. In 1998, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and in October 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Album of the day:

Way too many bad compilation alà “Best of.. Sun…” out there.. but this is one is ok. Many important songs missing off course, most notably from Jerry Lee Lewis & Charlie Rich.. but it includes lots of masterpieces & a great album cover.

The Best of Sun Records (2007):

best of sun records

also check out:

Other January 05:

 

  • Charles Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979) was a highly-influential American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader. Mingus’s compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream, free jazz, and classical music. Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz. He once cited Duke Ellington and church as his main influences.
  • Iris DeMent (born January 5, 1961) is an American singer and songwriter. DeMent’s musical style includes elements of thecountry and folk music genres.
  • Stanley Booth (born January 5, 1942 in Waycross, Georgia) is an American music journalist. Booth has written extensively about important music figures, including Keith Richards, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons, B.B. King, and Al Green. He chronicled his travels with the Rolling Stones in several of his works.

-Egil & Hallgeir

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