Sam Phillips, who is regarded as one of the pioneers of rock music, founded the Sun Studio on the 3rd of January, 1950 at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Originally called the Memphis Recording Service, it shared the building with the Sun Records label. In 1951, the Memphis Recording Service obtained the title of “The Birth Place of Rock And Roll” when the song “Rocket 88”, a song with an extremely heavy backbeat and an authentic and unique sound, was recorded by Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston.
Rock and Roll, as genre of music, was born. Probably the best song recorded at the studios was the Grammy Hall of Fame song “Raunchy” by Bill Justis, who later on worked as a musical director at Sun Records.
Beyond Rock and Roll:
The Sun Studios was the pioneer in rock music in its time. But there was more than just rock music being recorded there. In the 1950s, the big guys of the musical world like Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich and Carl Perkins were all signed up by Sun Studios and recorded all their albums there. This was followed by the opening of a larger studio on Madison Avenue. The other noted artists who recorded their albums in the Sun Studios during that time were Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Feathers, Roy Orbison, Ray Harris, Warren Smith and the most noted of them all, Elvis Presley.
The Journey Over The Years:
In 1969, the Sun Records label was sold to Shelby Singleton. After that there was no activity, record-related or label-related, in the building till the September 1985 recording sessions of “class of ‘55” with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison, produced by Chips Moman. In 1987, the same building was reopened as Sun Studio. This functioned as a recording studio as well as a tourist attraction. Sun had purchased new equipment from Terry Manning, the noted producer. It was on this equipment that U2 recorded tracks for “Rattle and Hum”. JW-Jones, the famous Canadian Blues artist, recorded with blues legends Hubert Sumlin, Larry Taylor and Richard Innes in May 2009, for his 2010 release.