It is to Elvis Presley that Sam Phillips owes his salvation. However, in 1955, he let him go for 40,000 dollars, an incredible sum for the time. All he had to do was find a replacement. The day Jerry Lee Lewis goes to Memphis, Sam Phillips is absent. Jack Clément, a producer, welcomes him and agrees to let him audition. “Where is your guitar?” he asks the young man. “I don’t play guitar, I play piano,” the blond boy replies with his typical deep south accent. “So, what do you think of this?” Jerry Lee Lewis says to him after tapping on his piano like hell.
On his second visit to Sun, the musician always finds the owner’s office empty. Nevertheless, he goes into the studio and records a first song. Upon his return to Memphis, Sam Phillips listens to the tape and declares to Jack Clement, “I can sell this.” History is in the making.
Jerry Lee Lewis returns, records more songs and America begins to dance to his notes. But when he settles once again in his cabin to can Great balls of fire, he is taken by a real crisis of faith.
Very pious, the young man thinks in his heart that rock and roll is the music of the Evil One. At this moment, he tries to turn back, thinking that playing this piece, which he composed, will open the doors of hell. Fortunately, Sam Phillips manages to sound it out and Jerry Lee Lewis goes for it. The rest is history.
It only took ten days for Jerry Lee Lewis to sell a million copies of his copies of his hit.
Sun Studio has seen rock and roll pioneers come and go, from Elvis Presley to Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.
In January 1950, radio engineer Sam Phillips opened the Sun Studio in Memphis. In 1952, he created the Sun Records label and recorded BB King, Howlin’ Wolf and many others. Despite all this, finances were at a low ebb. Until that day in August 1953 when a certain Elvis Presley pushed open the door of the studio. The beginning of a golden age during which rock and roll was born. More recently, bands like U2 and Def Leppard have also stopped by. Classified as a National Historic Landmark, the studio has also become a popular tourist attraction.
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Cult! music: 100 mythical music places [French Edition]
Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists!
Head to Melbourne, Australia for a stroll along AC/DC Lane before crossing the iconic Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in the company of The Beatles. Visit Janis Joplin‘s home in San Francisco and find out how Johnny Cash ended up playing his greatest hits to a crowd of prisoners in San Quentin. Travel the winding roads of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and stop in Japan to catch up with Deep Purple, Phil Collins and Daft Punk. Drive down the Tina Turner Highway before entering some of the most legendary studios in music history. Go back to the troubled origins of Billie Holiday and make a pact with Robert Johnson at the famous crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists! Relive the Jimi Hendrix concert on the Isle of Wight before paying tribute to Bob Marley in Jamaica.
Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! musictells the secrets of the places that made the history of music.
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Discover all the places Great Balls of Fire on our map
By Gilles Rolland
Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.