North America, Tennessee

Explore Memphis Music History

Memphis, Tennessee is celebrated for three things, barbecue, civil rights and music. We took a trip to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame to explore Memphis music history and learned quite a lot about the musicians who got their start in Memphis.

Explore Memphis Music History

Memphis Musicians

There are actually quite a few musicians who got their start in Memphis. I didn’t realize all who did. Very interesting.  I took loads of photos while we were there. I can’t share them all here, but here are some, along with a little information to whet your whistle and make you want to visit too.

ZZ Top

The first thing you see when you start to explore Memphis music history are these drumsticks from Frank Beard of ZZ Top. I love ZZ Top.

When I was a teen they came to the city I lived, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was so excited, saved my lunch money and bought a ticket to see them. On the day of the concert, it snowed so bad, something that was really unusual for Albuquerque. I didn’t know how to drive in the snow and I got in an accident on the way to the concert and missed it. I was so sad. All those missed lunches for nothing. No one got hurt, but it took awhile to get on the road again. So sad.

Explore Memphis Music History


Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes was a “style pioneer in a class all his own” according to Variety magazine. Looking at these outfits, I’d have to say he did break some ground in the fashion area.

Explore Memphis Music History

This piano was used by Isaac Hayes and the record on the bottom right is the test pressing of the “Theme From Shaft”, with a hand-typed label that reads, “26 July ’71”. The song was released that September. If you don’t know that song, you can listen to it on YouTube.

Explore Memphis Music History

BB King

This guitar is BB King’s. He was born in Mississippi, like Elvis. When he was 22 years old, he hitchhiked to Memphis to pursue a music career. It worked and he is known as the King of the Blues. In downtown Memphis, on Beale Street, there is a BB King restaurant and a trinket shop.

Explore Memphis Music History

Justin Timberlake

For those of you who are younger, did you know that Justin Timberlake was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee? It’s a true story. They are pretty proud of him here. This is his Tom Ford tuxedo, which he wore during the American leg of his 20/20 tour. I didn’t see the tour, but some of you might have.

Explore Memphis Music History

Jerry Lee Lewis

Do you know who Jerry Lee Lewis, rock’s original bad boy, is? Want to see his car? Here is half of it. It’s a custom 1983 Cadillac El Ballero. The other half of this car is on Beale Street at Jerry Lee Lewis’s Cafe & Honkey Tonk.

Explore Memphis Music History

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black moved to Memphis is 1954 where he sold appliances while he studied to be a radio announcer. He recorded his first record at Sun Records in 1955, “Hey Porter” and “Cry, Cry, Cry” and continued to record from Sun Records until 1958, when he left for Columbia records.

Explore Memphis Music History

Elvis Presley

There is quite a bit of memorabilia from Elvis to see when you explore Memphis music history. Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi in a tiny house in 1935. I took my kids there one time and he comes from very humble beginnings. He moved to Memphis with his family when he was 13 years old.

In 1954, he began his music career at Sun Records and recorded the first rock and roll record, which changed the music world. I read some thoughts of other musicians, like Frank Sinatra and they weren’t very nice. Elvis is known as the King of Rock and Roll, although he also sang beautiful gospel music. Elvis also starred in a lot of movies and served in the U.S. Army.

This display kind of cracked me up. It’s the first mobile phone and was for Elvis Presley! This one is from about 1968 and came with an attachable antenna. Want to carry one of these around?

Explore Memphis Music History

This is one of Elvis’s many outfits in the museum. I really don’t love it, but he must have. I think I’m not flashy enough for things like this.

Explore Memphis Music History

This is a jump suit that Elvis performed in and is actually one of them more simple jumpsuits.

Explore Memphis Music History

Lasky Bros

Next door to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame is Lasky Bros. clothing shop. It’s known as the “Clothier to the King” and where Elvis did indeed have is clothes made. Johnny Cash’s black suit above was also made at Lasky’s.

Explore Memphis Music History

Elvis had a black leather jacket from Lasky Bros and they currently sell replicas for sale. My cute daughter, who looks good in literally everything she puts on, tried one on. She’s a cutie and lots of fun to explore with when we travel.

Explore Memphis Music History

This is Elvis in his jacket. It looks like he’s singing a song to me. Don’t you think?

Explore Memphis Music History

Visiting the Memphis Music Hall of Fame takes about an hour and is located right downtown, next to the Hard Rock Cafe.

There is so much music history to explore in Memphis. Our next stops are Sun Records and of course, Graceland. Are you a big music fan? If so, you many need to add Memphis to your bucket list.


Explore Memphis Music History


Want to know more about Memphis, Tennessee? Check out these posts.

Memphis Street Art

Memphis Street Art


5 Fun Downtown Memphis Shops

5 Fun Downtown Memphis Shops

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  • Fiona Maclean June 23, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Gosh what a plethora of unexpected musicians in Memphis. It really is the heartland of American Rock and Roll isn’t it! And even Justin Timberlake!!!

    • ppadmin July 10, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      It really is. Tennessee as a whole has some amazing music history.If you make it to Memphis, try to plan a couple of days in Nashville too. The country music history there is impressive as well.

  • Wendy June 23, 2018 at 9:21 am

    We were just in Memphis too. It was our next to last stop on a 4-month, 45-stop trip of the American Southwest. We spent 2 nights and 2 days – a perfect amount of time. We did not get to the Hall of Fame. It seems somewhat similar to the Elvis museum, in that the clothes, instruments, cars, office equipment are all on display. We spent all day in all of the Elvis museums, homes, sights, and went to Beale Street one of the days. If we go back, we’ll check out the Hall of Fame.

    • ppadmin June 25, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      I haven’t actually gotten to Graceland yet. It’s on my list of places to go before I leave. I’m going with company, but I didn’t want to pay twice. A 45 stop trip sounds amazing! I hope you had fun.

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman June 23, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    We had some friends who went to Bloghouse Memphis and they were telling us about the music scene. It amazing how “Cool” all of these musicians were. Elvis yeah but Johnny Cash, ZZ Top, Theme from Shaft. More proof that there is an entirely next level of cool reserved for rock stars.

    • ppadmin July 10, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      That is so true. These fellas were the coolest of the cool.

  • Lauren Korstrom June 23, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    How cool is this! My boyfriend and a few friends has been to Memphis, I haven’t been but they raved about how cool it was. Such an iconic place for musicians and artists, would love to see it!

    • ppadmin June 25, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I don’t think you realize just how much music history happened here until you’re right in it and exploring it all. It’s so interesting.Makes me wonder what was in the water too, because so much talent comes from Memphis.

  • Linda June 24, 2018 at 6:50 am

    We have always wanted to explore music history in that area. A visit to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame sounds like a great place to start. Certainly I would love to learn more about Blues and BB King is such an icon. It would be fun to see Elvis’ outfits. Looks like a fun day.

    • ppadmin July 10, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      It was very fun. There is a lot to see and learn here.

  • amit June 25, 2018 at 12:56 am

    It’s crazy to think how many top musicians have come out of Memphis, I like you am a ZZ Top fan and the music hall of fame really looks like it’s worth a visit for sure. Memphis is definitely on my list of places to visit on my USA trip and pretty much just for it’s music history 😀

    • ppadmin July 10, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      I knew Elvis got his start here when we moved to Memphis, but I have been very surprised by all of the musicians came from here.

  • Indrani June 25, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Barbecue, civil rights and music seems an unusual combination but an interesting one. Good to see the displays of Elvis’ outfits. Amazing fashion trends set by Isaac Hayes. Memphis sights has got me interested to know more about it.

    • ppadmin June 26, 2018 at 10:03 am

      It’s a very interesting place. The combination of barbecue, civil right and music does seem odd, but when you really dig into the history of Memphis, they really go together.

  • Ghia Lorenzo June 26, 2018 at 2:16 am

    I wanna try to visit so I could see those collections from Elvis and Johnny Cash! I am really a big fan of them as I always play music of them to make me feel relaxed. Thanks for this awesome post!

    • ppadmin June 26, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Thank you. They were very talented men, as were so many others from this area. I hope you make it soon.

  • Ami Bhat June 27, 2018 at 12:17 am

    Those are some legendary exhibits alright. From Justin Timberlake to Elvis – wow! EAch of those stories were interesting. Am sure there are plenty more out here . Made a note of this museum as I intend finding out all that is there to it

    • ppadmin June 27, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      If you come to Memphis, you could spend days exploring the music history of this area. It’s all really interesting.

  • Kirstie June 27, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    This is very cool! Music history is also history and that exhibit shows off legends like Elvis! What a great place to be for music and even non-music lovers.

    • ppadmin June 27, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      You are so right. It’s so great to see all of it and learn from it.

  • Gemma Laing June 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    This is so cool! I fee like I learned a bunch of stuff! And now I have somewhere else to add to my bucket list… seriously hoping to get over to the States soon and Memphis is definitely going to have to be a stop!

    • ppadmin July 2, 2018 at 4:31 am

      There are so many great places in the States to explore. It’s very diverse. If you love music, Memphis is a great stop.

  • Iga July 2, 2018 at 7:22 am

    The Memphis Music Hall of Fame is epic! Wow, I never knew that there was so much music history here. My dad is an audiophile and a huge fan of ZZTop and BB King, he would love this too!

    • ppadmin July 8, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      It was really fun to explore. You should bring your dad to experience all the music.

  • Heather July 2, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Really cool post! I’ve been to Memphis and toured Graceland, but even though I only live 4 hours from there, I haven’t truly spent a lot of time there. I loved reading and looking at all of your pics of what I can see there music-wise. Brought back a lot of memories as a kid watching BB King, meeting Jerry Lee Lewis, etc. I recognized Justin’s suit right off the bat!

    • ppadmin July 8, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      You met Jerry Lee Lewis?! That is so cool! There really is a lot to see and explore musically here. Graceland is on my list of places to visit this month.