Justin Timberlake, B.B. King, Isaac Hayes and Scotty Moore -- four musicians with ties to Memphis, Tennessee -- have been selected as Musical Ambassadors for the city, as it plans a yearlong celebration in 2004 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of rock & roll.
While the birth of rock is oft debated, for the purposes of its celebration, Memphis has chosen the recording of Elvis Presley's "That's All Right" as the music's big-bang moment. Among the events planned is a Global Moment in Time on July 5th (the day Presley cut the song), with radio stations worldwide encouraged to play the cut simultaneously.
Presley serves as the focal point for much of the year's festivities. His sixty-ninth birthday would have been on January 8th and Elvis Week (set for August 7-16) concludes on the day of his death. Memphis is also planning to host several other events throughout 2004.
Though born outside the city, Moore, Hayes and King all have connections to Memphis' early music industry. Moore played with Presley on numerous early recordings for Sam Phillips' Memphis-based Sun Records. And Hayes was an in-house songwriter and keyboardist for the city's legendary R&B label Stax Records. Earlier this year, the theater where Stax was initially housed was reopened as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. King was once a popular radio disc jockey in the city, earning the name Beale Street Blues Boy, which was shortened to Blues Boy and eventually the iconic moniker he performed under for more than a half century. The freshest face of the bunch, Timberlake, was born and raised in Memphis, and his family still lives there.