DJ Sam Phillips founded Sun Records in 1952. The first single he released was Johnny London singing “Drivin’ Slow“. The following year, 18 year old Elvis Presley visited the studio (Memphis Recording Service) to make a record for himself. He recorded “My Happiness” and “This is Where Your Heartache Begins“. Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips’ secretary, was there when Elvis visited and was impressed with what she heard. For a year she tried to convince Sam to bring the kid in and listen to him. Finally, Sam needed a new sound and Elvis got an audition. On July 5, 1954, Elvis, with musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black, had their first recording session and recorded “That’s All Right Mama“.
Many other artists recorded at Sun Records, including Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. In fact, on one immortal day, the four hung out together and had a jam session. Someone was smart enough to record part of that. Those tracks are available on an album called “Million Dollar Quartet“. A Broadway musical by the same name has been produced.
Sun Records is a great place to visit, and I recommend making it part of your plan when you visit Memphis. The give a great tour, ending in the actual room where these great artists recorded. When they play a few of the tracks that were recorded in that room, and the acoustics do their job, you can close your eyes and imagine you’ve gone back in time. Visit their website, here.