North America, Tennessee

Birthplace of Rock n Roll – Sun Studio

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll, Sun Studio, has the distinction of many of the greats getting their start in music and recording here beginning in 1951. The first record to be recorded was Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, with the single Rocket 88, although it was more of a rhythm and blues record to my untrained ear.

 

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

Sun Studio

I had never heard of that song when I made my visit with my dad on a hot Memphis day in July. The song was actually written by Ike Turner, who was at the keyboards for the recording. Check it out on You Tube and judge for yourself.

Did you know that Carl Perkins recorded Blue Suede Shoes before Elvis Presley? It didn’t do as well as Elvis’s version, but it was still pretty popular. 

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

 

Music History

The undisputed King of Rock n Roll, who got his start at Sun Studio, was of course the King himself, Elvis Presley. His start didn’t just fall into place either. He had to work for it, and as they say, the rest is history. It was quite humbling to stand it in the same place and walk in the footsteps of the greats of rock and roll and other genres of music.

Sun Studio Tour

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

Radio Station WHBQ

Sun Studio sits at the corner of Union and Marshall Avenues, in Memphis, Tennessee and the building is actually a triangle.  When you walk in the building, you walk into a little soda shop with old records all over the walls. Your tour begins on the top floor, in a room with radio station WHBQ and many of the memorabilia collected over the years. Hear stories of the radio station and DJ Howlin’ Wolf. Interesting fellow.

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

B.B. King Memorabilia

 

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

Elvis Presley and a Childhood Friend

After the memorabilia room, your next and final stop is the actual recording studio where some of the greats got their start in the music business. The list of these most talented people includes Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and of course, Elvis Presley. In this room you can stand on the actual spot where these greats stood to record their hits and listen to some of the stories of their time in the studio.

Impromptu Magic

One of the best stories is of the impromptu session of what was later called the Million Dollar Quartet. It included Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, who just happened to all show up at the studio at the same time. Oh to be in the room when that magic happened. Hear the whole story on your tour.

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The Million Dollar Quartet

Sun Studio isn’t a large place, but you can feel the music come alive on your tour through the studio. I really loved visiting and hearing all of the history and the stories. So much talent to come out of one place and really, the change of music history with the new genre of Rock n Roll, which happens to be my favorite kind of music.

The Birthplace of Rock n Roll Sun Studio #rocknroll #sunstudio #memphis #Tennesee #musichistory

My Dad and I – sure love this guy

About Sun Studio

Sun Studio has tours daily from 10 am to 6 pm and then the doors close, so more music can be made. All of these years later, it is still an active studio, with the same floor; walls and ceiling that started it all. Even my favorite band, Def Leppard, has recorded at the Birthplace of Rock n Roll, Sun Studio. That’s good enough for me.

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24 Comments

  • Reply Rob Taylor November 7, 2018 at 10:18 am

    What a cool place! I have tried to explain the evolution of music to my kids and I think some music history travel may be what’s needed. Was thinking Detroit, but Memphis might be a better option. Thanks for planting the seed!

    • Reply ppadmin November 8, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Memphis would be an excellent place to take them. There are so many places to explore to really get the feel of the music history. It’s quite impressive.

  • Reply Natasha November 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Wow! I wish I visited such an epic place like Sun Studio. I guess the atmosphere is fantastic!

    • Reply ppadmin November 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      It’s a very interesting place to spend some time. We enjoyed it a lot.

  • Reply Vaisakhi Mishra November 11, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Such a cool place! I really need to research about Memphis now. I barely know anything about the city and now to find that this place is pretty much the birthplace of rock and roll – so so interesting! The studio seems like an amazing place for a music lover.

    • Reply ppadmin November 12, 2018 at 9:57 am

      It really is. There are so many places in Memphis just like that too.

  • Reply Indrani November 11, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Wow birthplace of music! Such an interesting place.
    Knowing about it for the first time, glad they are maintaining it well.

    • Reply ppadmin November 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

      It’s a pretty great place. It’s actually still in use for recording, so that’s really amazing.

  • Reply Elaine Masters November 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    There’s so much about Memphis that I don’t know. Would love to see it through the lense of the history of music. Great pictures!

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      I learned a lot, thats for sure. Thank you.

  • Reply sherianne November 12, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    So much history in that little studio. How interesting that Def Leppard recorded there, I need to visit to hear the backstory on that!

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      I think it was just a song after a concert, not a whole album. Since I love them so much, it was neat to hear.

  • Reply Lisa November 13, 2018 at 1:09 am

    So awesome to know that Elvis Presley got his start at Sun Studios! And also so cool to know that it’s still an active studio, after all these years. The tour sounds like a fantastic experience! 😀

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      It was really a great time with my dad.

  • Reply Jitaditya November 13, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Heard a lot about Memphis and Sun Records and of course Elvis. Glad to see a blogpost on this place. A musical vacation here reminds me of the film Mystery Train.

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      I haven’t seen that film. We saw a lot of music history in our 9 months in Memphis.

  • Reply Catherine Salvador Mendoza November 13, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Who doesn’t know Elvis Presley, right? Going o a tour in a music studio is like being alive and the music so much gets in you! Nice, you like rock n roll music while I prefer pop! Although I also listen to rock when I wanna have extra brighten up my day! And oldest pictures here at Sun Studio are one of the coolest!

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      I fell in love with rock and roll when I was a teenager and still love it. The pictures in Sun Studio were so incredible to see.

  • Reply Julius November 14, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Good to know where the rock n roll came from! 🙂 Eventhough I am quite younger, I still love that music and all the movies that were made about rock n roll guys, especially Johnny Cash 🙂 This kind of museums is definitely must visit!

    • Reply ppadmin November 14, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      It’s all so interesting. Johnny Cash was such a talented man, with a very unique voice.

  • Reply Jim Whittemore November 15, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Would have loved to be there just to witness the “million dollar quartet” always fascinated me for its time. To be able to convince all those guys to be in the same place at the same time.

    • Reply ppadmin November 16, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      The thing that is really neat about the Million Dollar Quartet is that they were all there at the same time by coincidence. They sang together, but didn’t know they were being recorded.

  • Reply Savannah November 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Wow, this looks like an awesome place to visit! I’d love to just soak up the vibes of all of the super talented people who have recorded at Sun Studio. I had no idea about the Million Dollar Quartet – I’ll have to take a tour myself to find out more! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply ppadmin December 6, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Do take that tour if you’re in Memphis. It was so interesting. I would love have been a fly on the wall when the Million Dollar Quartet were playing together. Such talent!

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