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January 25, 2011   

Sam Phillips & Martin Luther King

Getting the opportunity to tour Sun Records and actually stand in that studio—on hallowed ground—was simply awesome. It snuck up on me. I got to hear Elvis Presley’s first recording ever made, not off YouTube or the like, but in the very room it was made. He simply strolled in off the street one day in 1953 and paid his three bucks to record “My Happiness” as a gift for his mother. Sam Phillips was not in at the time, so instead, it was “secretary”, Marion Keisker, who recorded it. Recognizing Elvis’s potential, she also made a copy to share with Sam later. I’m really more of a Johnny Cash fan.

For me, it was a historical day of newÑnot only about the origins of rock and roll, with Elvis, Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and the other cats at Sun Records, but also other things I don’t usually think of. I stood outside the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was shot, and contemplated a life far different than mine and what I could learn from it. This spot right here was far more than a tourist attraction. It was sad.

 

one of the microphones at Sun Records, used by Elvis and Johnny Cash

The balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Just an old wall down the street from Earnestine & Hazel's.

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