Events

60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll Artists

In honor of 60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley's Graceland will honor 60 artists each day who have been inspired by Elvis or have helped shape music and pop culture. The 60-day countdown will end with a world-wide celebration in Memphis on July 5 - the day Elvis Presley, Bill Black and Scotty Moore walked into Sam Phillips' Sun Studio and recorded "That's All Right.


July 5, 2014


Sun Studio

Sun Studio was born to capture the pure raw energy of Beale Street. The owner Sam Phillips was a self-taught producer who helped transform music for generations to come. Originally called Memphis Recording Service, Sun Studio opened at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 3, 1950. Rock 'n' roll, country music, and rockabilly artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Feathers, Ray Harris, Warren Smith, Charlie Rich, and Jerry Lee Lewis all began their careers inside this studio. On July 4, 1954, 19-year-old Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. DJ Dewey Phillips played the song on July 8 on WHBQ radio and the switchboard lit up. Rock ‘n’ Roll was born and the music world changed forever.


July 4, 2014


Stax Records

Stax Records, originally named Satellite Records, was founded in Memphis in 1957 by Jim Stewart. Satellite's early releases were country music, rockabilly records or straight pop numbers. Stewart was later introduced to rhythm and blues by fellow Memphian and staff producer Chips Moman, who later founded American Sound Studio. Stax featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and an integrated black and white team of staff and artists unheard of in that time of racial strife and tension in Memphis and the South. In 15 years, Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 on the pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts. It launched the careers of such legendary artists as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Booker T, & the MGs and numerous others.


July 3, 2014


American Sound Studio

American Sound Studio was a recording studio located at 827 Thomas Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Over 100 hit songs were recorded there between its founding in 1967 and its closing in 1972. Artists who recorded at American Sound Studio included Elvis Presley, Merrilee Rush, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield, B. J. Thomas, Petula Clark, Joe Tex, Roy Hamilton and The Box Tops. The Memphis Boys were the house band and the music behind some of the greatest songs ever recorded.


July 2, 2014


Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and musically influential groups in the history of popular music. With over 250 million records sold world-wide, Pink Floyd has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame.


July 1, 2014


The Clash

The Clash were an English punk rock band that formed in 1976 as part of the original wave of British punk. Along with punk, their music incorporated elements of reggae, dub, funk, and rockabilly. The Clash's politicized lyrics, musical experimentation, and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock and alternative rock. Their album "London Calling," an ode to Elvis using the same imagery from his first album, is considered one of the most influential rock albums. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone ranked them number 28 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."


June 30, 2014


Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack was an American active singer-songwriter and musician recording artist since the early 1960s. He started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and as Sam Cooke's backing guitarist. Womack's career spanned more than 50 years and spanned a repertoire in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel and country. Womack wrote and originally recorded the Rolling Stones' first UK No. 1 hit, "It's All Over Now" and New Birth's "I Can Understand It" among other songs. Womack worked at Chips Moman's American Studios in Memphis and played the guitar on several of Aretha Franklin's albums. He has received one Grammy award and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


June 29, 2014


Booker T. & the M.G.'s

Memphis natives Booker T. & the M.G.'s were one of the first racially integrated rock groups. They were an instrumental R&B/funk band that was influential in shaping the sound of southern soul and Memphis music. The band was formed as the house band of Stax Records, providing backing music for a variety of singers such as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of the most prolific, respected, and imitated of their era. The band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame.


June 28, 2014


The Who

The Who are one of the most influential rock groups of the '60s and '70s. The group has been credited with originating the "rock opera" and making one of the first notable concept albums. Their contributions to rock iconography include the power chord, windmill strum, the Marshall Stack and the guitar smash. For much of their career they have been regarded as one of the most important British rock acts and one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 100 million records. The Who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the UK Music Hall of Fame and they have received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 27, 2014


Muddy Waters

Born in the Mississippi Delta, Muddy Waters was an American blues musician. He is considered the "father of modern Chicago blues" and was a major inspiration for the British explosion of the '60s. Muddy's sound was Delta blues electrified, but his use of micro-tones, in both his vocals and slide playing, made it extremely difficult to duplicate. Muddy Waters received six Grammy awards and five Blues Foundation Awards. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and has received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 26, 2014


Ray Charles

Ray Charles was an American singer-songwriter, musician and composer who fused rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings in the '50s. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the '60s with his crossover success. Ray Charles was one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Like Elvis, the influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and country artists of the day. Ray's version of "Georgia On My Mind" was made the official state song for Georgia. He was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and has been awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 25, 2014


The Ramones

The Ramones were an American punk rock band formed in New York City in the '70s. Despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band was a major influence on the punk rock movement in the United States and the United Kingdom. The band performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. Despite limited commercial success, recognition of the band's importance built over the years, and they are now mentioned in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock." The Ramones have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 24, 2014


Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. She began her career, much like Elvis, singing gospel music in her church. Franklin's voice has been described as being a "powerful mezzo-soprano voice" and has been praised for her arrangements. Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She's also been inducted in to the UK Music Hall of Fame and the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and "100 Greatest Singers of All Time."


June 23, 2014


Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was an American singer-songwriter who first rose to fame in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist. Joplin recorded four studio albums in her career. Her first two albums were recorded with and fully credited to Big Brother and the Holding Company and the later two being solo albums. She was one of the more popular acts at the Monterey Pop Festival and later became one of the major attractions to the Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour. Joplin charted five singles, and other popular songs from her four-year solo career including "Piece of My Heart", "Ball 'n' Chain", and her #1 hit, "Me and Bobby McGee." Rolling Stone ranked Joplin among the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 22, 2014


The Eagles

The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971. With five number-one singles, six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, and six number one albums, the Eagles were one of the most successful musical acts of the '70s. At the end of the 20th century, two of their albums, "Their Greatest Hits" and "Hotel California," were ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the U.S. "Hotel California" is ranked 37th in Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", and the band was ranked number 75 on the magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. With over 150 million records sold in the U.S. alone, they are the fifth-highest-selling music act and one of the highest-selling American bands. The group has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.


June 21, 2014


Little Richard

Little Richard is an American recording artist, songwriter, and musician. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over six decades. His most celebrated work dates from the mid 1950s where his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock 'n' roll. His music also had a pivotal impact on the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Recording Academy and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Legendary song "Tutti Frutti" has included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.


June 20, 2014


Van Morrison

Van Morrison is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician whose records appear at the top of many greatest album lists. Much of Morrison's music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B, such as the popular singles "Brown Eyed Girl," "Domino," and "Wild Night." An equal part of his catalog consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys. Morrison has received considerable acclaim, including six Grammy Awards, the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, being inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and appearing on several "Greatest Artists" lists over the years.


June 19, 2014


Eric Clapton

Inspired by the explosion of rock 'n' roll in the late '50s, Eric Clapton became one of the most respected guitarist of all time. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton is ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". Clapton has received 17 Grammy Awards and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.


June 18, 2014


Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead is best known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia and space rock. The Grateful Dead has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide. Best known for being the original jam band, they are ranked in Rolling Stone's "Greatest Artists of All Time" and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University has been added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.


June 17, 2014


Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel were an American music duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They rose to fame in 1965 with the hit single "The Sound of Silence." Their music was featured in the landmark film "The Graduate," propelling them further into the public spotlight. Elvis later famously covered their "Bridge Over Trouble Water" which appeared on his "That's The Way It Is" album. From the very beginning of their fame, through the present, Simon and Garfunkel have had an impact on the popular culture with many references to them made in television, film, music and other aspects. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have won 10 Grammy awards. In 2003, the pair performed together for the first time in over a decade after receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


June 16, 2014


Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem was an American disc jockey and radio personality during the rise of rock 'n' roll. He is best known for being the host of "American Top 40," "American Top 20" and "American Top 10." Kasem founded the "American Top 40" franchise and hosted it through out his lifetime. Kasem has been inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame radio division, National Radio Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also received the Radio Icon award at the Radio Music Awards in 2003.



June 15, 2014


Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley, known as The Originator, was an American R & B vocalist, guitarist and songwriter whow as instrumental in the transition from the blues to rock 'n' roll, influencing a host of acts, including Elvis Presley. He introduced more insistent, driving rhythms and a hard-edged electric guitar sound on a wide-ranging catalog of songs, along with African rhythms and a signature beat that remains a cornerstone of hip hop, rock and pop. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. Bo Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.


June 14, 2014


The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California. They were among the most controversial, influential and unique rock acts of the '60s, mostly because of lead singer Jim Morrison's wild, poetic lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. Oliver Stone’s 1990 film biography of the band, which ran for more than two hours, triggered another wave of Doors-mania. "The Best of the Doors," a double-disc compilation released in 1987, became the top-selling album of their career, having been certified nine times platinum. The Doors have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "Light My Fire" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and have received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.



June 13, 2014


Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music. He expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. Born in Seattle, Hendrix began playing guitar at 15-years-old after attending an Elvis Presley concert in 1957. Largely inspired by '50s rock 'n' roll, Hendrix went on to become one of the most celebrated entertainers in the world. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the UK Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among several Grammy awards.


June 12, 2014


Queen

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. The band has released 18 #1 albums, 18 #1 singles, and 10 #1 DVDs worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Queen has sold over 150 million records, with some estimates in excess of 300 million records worldwide. The band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The band is also the only group in which every member has composed more than one chart-topping single. In 2009, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.



June 11, 2014


Aerosmith

Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, including 70.2 million albums in the United States alone. With 25 gold albums, 18 platinum albums and 12 multi-platinum albums, they hold the record for the most gold albums by an American group, the most total certifications by an American group, and are tied for the most multi-platinum albums by an American group. The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine number-one Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were included among both Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."


June 10, 2014


TCB Band

The TCB Band was a group of professional musicians who formed the core rhythm section of Elvis Presley’s band from 1969 - 1977. TCB stands for Taking Care of Business, a personal motto Presley adopted in the early '70s. They first appeared live at Presley’s first Las Vegas at the International Hotel on July 31, 1969. Band members went on to play with other famous artists such as Emmie Lou, John Denver, Jerry Garcia, Neil Diamond and many others. Members of the band continue to tour world-wide in sold-out tributes to the king.


June 9, 2014


David Bowie

David Bowie has influenced popular music for over four decades and is well-known for his work in the 1970s. With hit songs such as his 1969 chart topping "Space Oddity," Bowie became an innovator by incorporating art into music form. Later, he developed his stage persona Ziggy Stardust which challenged the more traditional forms of rock 'n' roll. With over 140 million albums sold world-wide, his career consisted of continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, eleven Gold and eight Silver. In the U.S., he has received five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him among the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." Bowie has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and named a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.


June 8, 2014


Led Zeppelin

Largely influenced by Elvis and his stage performance, Led Zeppelin is the precursor to what is now known as heavy metal - futher expanding the span of rock 'n' roll's impact on popular culture. The English rock band was formed in London in 1968 consisting of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. They are one of the best-selling music artists in the history of audio recording with over 200 million records sold worldwide. Each of their nine studio albums placed on the Billboard Top 10 and six reached the number-one spot. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the UK Music Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame. The band's awards include an American Music Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Diamond status albums, Polar Music Prize, among many others.



June 7, 2014


Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry’s music has transcended generations and pioneered of rock 'n' roll music for artists such as Elvis. As a guitarist, singer and songwriter, Berry redefined rhythm and blues utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music. With millions of records sold world-wide, Berry's hits include "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Rock and Roll Music," "Johnny B. Goode," among many others. Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986.


June 6, 2014


Bill Haley and His Comets

Bill Haley and His Comets were a rock 'n' roll band credited with first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s. Their hit single “Rock Around the Clock,” a rock anthem stayed at #1 for eight weeks and sold an estimated twenty-five million copies worldwide. For most of the '50s, Haley was a presence on the record charts, and he appeared in several rock 'n' roll movies aimed at teenagers. It is estimated that Haley and His Comets have sold 60 million records worldwide. Haley and His Comets have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and have been honored at Hollywood's Rock Walk.


June 5, 2014


Norbert Putnam, Elvis' Bassist

Norbert Putnam played as Elvis' bassist and was part of the Muscle Shoals musicians brought to Nashville to play for the king in 1965.Putnam worked there as a bassist on recording sessions with Presley, Roy Orbison, Al Hirt, Henry Mancini, Linda Ronstadt, J. J. Cale, and many more artists. Later in life Putname became a producer responsible for copious work on Nashville's non-country music output from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. His credits include major works that established the popularity of performers such as Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Dan Fogelberg, Brewer & Shipley and many others. Putnam was instrumental in the wave of modernization of many recording studios in Nashville, and laid the groundwork for the city's growth and widening it's appeal to pop and rock 'n' roll artists.

 


June 4, 2014


Rolling Stones

Beginning in 1962, The Rolling Stones were and English rock band that played an integral role in the British Invasion of rock 'n' roll music. Over the past five decades, the band has sold over 250 million records world-wide. They have released 29 studio albums, 18 live albums and numerous compilations. They followed in Elvis' footsteps of making blues music an instrumental part of rock 'n' roll. The Rolling Stones have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame. They have also received three Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, among many other accolades.


June 3, 2014 


Isaac Hayes

Issac Hayes was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and producer. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer.  The hit song "Soul Man", written by Hayes and David Porter has been recognized as one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame.  He’s well known for his musical score for the film "Shaft" (1971) for which he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972. That same year he also won two Grammy Awards for his work on "Shaft." During the late 1990s, Hayes gained new popularity as the voice of Chef on the Comedy Central animated television series "South Park." 



June 2, 2014


Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is one of the most influential figures in pop culture for more than five decades. His career includes works as a musician, singer-songwriter, artist and writer. Like Elvis, his recording career has explored many of the traditions of music from folk, blues, country and gospel to rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. Dylan has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. His awards include 11 Grammy Awards, one Academy Award and one Golden Globe Award. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."


June 1, 2014


Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Song Writers

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were life-long partners, penning hits such as Elvis' "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock." Stoller was the composer and Leiber the lyricist. Other famous songs include "Don't," "Potion #9," "Kansas City," "Stand By Me" and "On Broadway." The "Jailhouse Rock" famous dance scene has long been credited as the first rock 'n' roll music video. The songwriting duo won Grammy awards for "Is That All There Is?" and for the cast album of "Smokey Joe's Cafe," a 1995 Broadway musical based on their work. "Smokey Joe's Cafe" was also nominated for seven Tony awards and became the longest-running musical in Broadway history.


May 31, 2014


Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band have been making rock hits since since 1972. The E Street Band was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Springsteen has earned 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999. Springsteen has sold more than 120 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.


May 30, 2014


The Beatles

These English rockers grew up listening to Elvis and set the stage for the British Invasion in the 1960s. With over 600 million records sold world-wide, the Beatles have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. They have received 10 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Score and 15 Ivor Novello Awards. In TIME Magazine's compilation of the "Twentieth Century's 100 Most Influential People," they joined their childhood idol after being named the best-selling band in history.


May 29, 2014


Sir Tom Jones, Singer

Tom Jones is one of the most popular vocalists to emerge from the '60s. Since then he has performed nearly every form of popular music – pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, soul and gospel. Influenced as a child by American blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll, the Welsh singing legend has produced hits in both the United States and the United Kingdom over the past five decades. With over 100 million records sold and multiple charted records, Jones' hit singles include "What’s New Pussycat?," "Thunderball," "Delilah," among many others. Jones has been awarded a GRAMMY and received official knighthood status from Queen Elizabeth II for his musical accomplishments.


May 28, 2014


Frank Sinatra, Ol' Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra is one of the best-selling artists of all time with more than 150 million records sold worldwide. Throughout his 60-year career, "Ol' Blue Eyes" demonstrated a remarkable ability to thrive in changing times, moving deftly from the swing era to the rock 'n' roll era. He performed on more than 1,400 recordings, was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double platinum and one triple platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America. He has also appeared in 58 films and produced eight motion pictures. Frank Sinatra was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from the GRAMMYs, The Screen Actors Guild, The Kennedy Center and the NAACP, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He continues to be a legend and inspiration for his contributions to culture and the arts.


May 27, 2014


J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet, Elvis' Back-Up Singers

J.D. Sumner was an original member of Gladys Presley's favorite gospel group The Blackwood Brothers and was highly noted for his deep bass voice. Sumner later formed J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet who performed as Elvis' back-up singers from 1971 - 1977. Elvis, while as a teenager, idolized Sumner's singing after seeing him perform with the Sunshine Boys. For 18 years, J.D. Sumner held the Guinness World Record for recording the lowest bass note. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

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May 25, 2014


James Burton, Master of the Telecaster

James Burton, also known as the "Master of the Telecaster," is among the greatest rock 'n' roll guitarists of all time. Burton performed with the TCB Band as Elvis' lead guitarist from 1969 - 1977. Since the beginning of his career, Burton has recorded and performed with an array of notable singers, including Bob Luman, Dale Hawkins, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, John Denver, Elvis Costello, Joe Osborn, Roy Orbison, among many others. Burton has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


May 24, 2014


Joe Guercio, Elvis' Music Director & Conductor

Joe Guercio was the man behind Elvis' live concert shows from 1970 - 1977, and the music conductor for the legendary "Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite" live broadcast concert. He is also well-known for his work on "Elvis That's The Way It Is" and "Elvis On Tour." He created the now iconic six-note theme for Elvis' stage entrances and bows. He also suggested that Elvis' shows open with the theme from "2001 - A Space Odyssey." His arrangement of the medley “Sweet Inspiration/Where You Lead” was a 1972 hit for Barbra Streisand, and his arrangement of “The Way We Were/Try to Remember” was a 1975 hit for Gladys Knight. He has been a musical director for Julius LaRosa, Diana Ross, Jim Nabors, Florence Henderson, Diahann Carroll, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, among others.


May 23, 2014


The Memphis Boys, House Band for American Sound

The Memphis Boys, the house band for American Sound, are a self-named rhythm section whose professional careers began in and around Memphis in the early '60s. Between 1968 and the closing of the studio in 1972, the band played on an unmatched 122 Billboard hits, including classic cuts by Elvis Presley ("Suspicious Minds"), Dusty Springfield ("Son Of A Preacher Man"), B.J. Thomas ("Hooked On A Feeling"), The Box Tops ("The Letter") and Neil Diamond ("Sweet Caroline"). Composed of drummer Gene Chrisman, bassists Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech, guitarist Reggie Young and keyboardists Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood, The Memphis Boys truly made their mark on rock 'n' roll music for generations to come.


May 22, 2014


Sir Elton John, World-Renowned Musician

Sir Elton John is one of the most highly acclaimed and successful solo artists of all time. He has achieved 38 gold albums and 26 platinum albums, sold more than 300 million records worldwide and holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time. Over the past five decades since his career began in 1969, Elton has played more than 3,500 concerts worldwide. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


May 21, 2014


Roy Orbison, The Big O

Roy Orbison is one of the most distinctive voices in rock 'n' roll music with a powerful complex composition and deep tremulous voice. After hearing Elvis' "Thats All Right," Orbison turned his attention to rockabilly and rock 'n' roll music. As one of the first to break ground through Sam Phillips' Sun Studio, Orbison's success came later in the early '60s with songs reaching the Top Ten charts nine times. Hits include "Oh, Pretty woman" and "Only the Lonely." Orbison has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone has also named him among "The Greatest Artists of All Time" and "The Greatest Singers of All Time." 


May 20, 2014


Ann-Margret, Actress and Singer

Initially billed as the female version of Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret's singing and acting career spans five decades with hits in the early '60s and a critically acclaimed gospel album. She co-starred alongside Elvis in "Viva Las Vegas" and is also best known for her roles in "Bye Bye Birdie," "The Cincinnati Kid," "Carnal Knowledge" and "Tommy." She has won five Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and six Emmy Awards, winning her first in 2010. As one of the most dynamic female singers on the Vegas scene in the '70s and '80s, her versatility of singing, acting and performing set the stage for future female rock stars. 


May 19, 2014


James Brown, The Godfather of Soul

With over 800 hits under his belt, James Brown has inspired artists from every popular music genre including rock 'n' roll, soul, jazz and R&B. In an age of music rebellion, Brown's stage performances and revolutionary sound broke barriers across the board. Brown has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992 and he is listed as one of Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." 


May 18, 2014


Carl Perkins, King of Rockabilly

Another member of the legendary Million Dollar Quartet, Carl Perkins, was an American rockabilly musician who recorded at Sun Studio with other legendary artists such as Elvis. His best known song is "Blue Suede Shoes" which Elvis later covered. Perkin's songs were recorded by other artists such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame. He was also a Grammy Hall of Fame Award recipient.


May 17, 2014


Jerry Lee Lewis, The Killer

With his innovative and flamboyant piano playing style, Jerry Lee Lewis emerged as one of rock 'n' roll’s earliest showmen in the '50s. Lewis found work as a studio musician for Sun Studio where he and Carl Perkins jammed with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash - later famously known as the Million Dollar Quartet. With hits such as "Great Balls of Fire" and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Lewis earned the nickname “The Killer” for his energy and enthusiasm during his live performances. Lewis has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has received The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award.


May 16, 2014


Wanda Jackson, Queen of Rockabilly

Widely known and respected as The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson is credited with being the first woman to ever record a rock 'n' roll song - “Let’s Have a Party” in 1958. Jackson who performed with Elvis and briefly dated him, was encouraged by the king to mix her country sound with rock 'n' roll. Jackson has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Awards.


May 15, 2014


DJ Fontana, Elvis' Drummer

DJ Fontana is another rock 'n' roll pioneer, who played as Elvis' drummer for 14 years and performed on over 460 RCA cuts with Elvis. DJ began his incredible career as a staff drummer in 1953 on the famous Louisiana Hayride. While working the Hayride in 1954, he met Elvis. They formed a common bond of friendship and admiration for each others immense talents. He also performed in Elvis' television guest appearances, in several of his movies and in the "'68 Comeback Special." Fontana has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


May 14, 2014


B.B. King, King of the Blues

Memphis native B.B. King is widely regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, inspiring countless other electric blues and blues-rock guitarists, including Elvis. King has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. King has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound, spawning a new generation of rock 'n' rollers.


May 13, 2014


Dean Martin, King of Cool

One of the most captivating entertainers of the 20th Century, Dean Martin was a singer, star of the stage, actor, television show host and an original member of the "Rat Pack." Martin's crooning voice and nonchalant swagger can be heard in hits such as "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" and "Memories Are Made of This." Elvis, who admired Martin and loved his music, took notes from his easy-going smooth delivery and adopted many of those traits into his own recordings and live performances. Martin was honored with the posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and continues to be a moving force in music and pop culture today.

 


May 12, 2014


James Dean, Star of "Rebel Without A Cause"

During the 1950s, James Dean's roles identified with the teenage rebellion of the time. Most notably, his starring role in "Rebel Without a Cause" helped spur the rock 'n' roll rebellion in Elvis. Although he was an actor, James Dean embodied the '50s teenager's desire to be non-conformists and most certainly contributed to the birth of rock 'n' roll. Elvis, when asked if he would be the next James Dean, stated he could not be compared because Dean was "a genius."


May 11, 2014


Johnny Cash, Country Music Icon

Johnny Cash, known as "The Man in Black," is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century. As a member of the famous Million Dollar Quartet, Cash, like Elvis, also came from humble beginnings and began recording at the legendary Sun Studio. Although primarily remembered as a country icon, his music embraced rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, blues, folk and gospel. With over 1,000 recordings and several albums, Cash has received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


May 10, 2014


Hank Snow, Country Music Legend who signed Elvis in 1955

Hank Snow's career spanned nearly 50 years with 140 albums and 85 charted singles on the Billboard country charts. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Music Hall of Fame. Elvis, who grew up listening to his music, first opened for Snow at the Grand Ole Opry in 1954. He is also the one who introduced Elvis to Colonel Tom Parker, signing him to a join management titled Hank Snow Attractions in 1955. Snow, who greatly influenced Elvis' music and rise to stardom, has sold over 70 million records with hit-singles such as "I'm Movin' On" and "Hello Love."


May 9, 2014


"Big Mama" Thornton, Originally Performed "Hound Dog"

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton is a legendary blues singer and songwriter. She is known as the woman who first performed Elvis' biggest hit “Hound Dog,” and later originated “Ball ‘n’ Chain,” one of Janis Joplin’s most popular songs. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, "Thornton was a masterful performer whose live performances on the blues, rhythm and blues, and rock circuits riveted audiences."


May 8, 2014


DJ Dewey Phillips, DJ for WHBQ's "Red, Hot & Blue" Show

DJ Dewey Phillips was one of rock 'n' roll's pioneer disc jockeys and the first to play "That's All Right" on WHBQ's "Red, Hot & Blue" radio show. After airing Elvis Presley's first single on July 8, 1954, the switchboard lit up with requests. Phillips played the song on repeat for the remaining two hours of his show, while interviewing the shy 19-year-old Elvis. In this moment, rock ‘n’ roll was born and the music world changed forever. 


May 7, 2014


Sam Phillips, Founder of Sun Studio and Sun Records

Sam Phillips played an integral role in the birth of rock 'n' roll. As a producer, label owner and talent scout throughout the '40s and '50s, he founded Sun Studio and Sun Records in 1950, where legendary artists such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison and many more recorded their first albums. On July 5, 1954, Elvis walked into Sun Studio and recorded a sped up version of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, giving birth a new sound, we now call rock 'n' roll. 


May 6, 2014


Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Author of "That's All Right"

Elvis Presley grew up a huge fan of Mississippi blues man Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, who authored the now legendary 1954 Sun debut “That’s All Right.” Although he did not receive much recognition during his time, Crudup was monumental in the birth of a new sound and has come to be known as the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll." Elvis later covered two more of Crudup's originals - “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine.”


May 5, 2014


Scotty Moore and Bill Black, The Blue Moon Boys

On July 5, 1954, Elvis walked into Sun Studios in Memphis and recorded “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, who later came to be known as The Blue Moon Boys. Both Moore and Black were monumental in the birth of rock 'n' roll and are considered by many to be the first real rock 'n' roll lead guitarist and bassist. Moore and Black have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and continue to inspire musicians around the world.