Elvis Presley, "That's All Right" (1954)
It all began with this one song. After months of trying to get his attention, in the summer of 1954, Elvis Presley finally managed to convince Sun Records head Sam Phillips to give him a shot. The producer thought the young man might have some promise, so Phillips called up his friend Scotty Moore to see if he'd be interested in doing something with him. Presley and Moore, along with bassist Bill Black, hit it off and shortly thereafter a recording session was booked for July 5th. When they got into the studio however, things just weren't clicking musically. It was only when Elvis began singing a snippet of the Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup song "That's All Right" in between sessions that any kind of spark lit up in the room. "All of a sudden," Moore told Presley's biographer Peter Guralnick, "Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool too, and I started playing with them." It was a moment pure improvisation, but an inspired one. The song was released as Presley's first single, and served as the launching point for his eventual ascent to King of Rock & Roll status.