Memphis Music Scene: 5 Things You Didn't Know - Rolling Stone
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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Memphis Music Scene

Explore the deep blues and rock & roll roots of the town that birthed Sun Records

The story of the birth of rock & roll was retold in the eight-part series, Sun Records. Developed under the working title, Million Dollar Quartet, and adapted from that Tony Award-winning jukebox musical, the music-fueled Sun Records charts the meteoric rise of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and a handful of other performers whose early recording sessions took place with charismatic Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips at the helm. Here, five more facts you may not know about Memphis’ legendary music scene.

“The Birthplace of Rock & Roll” serves a mean milkshake.
Lisa Gill, a studio employee since 1994, is known locally as “The International Milkshake Maker,” serving a selection of shakes out of Sun Studio’s lobby.

Although a longtime blues town, Memphis’ musical history is far more colorful.
Big Star, Justin Timberlake, Lucero and Isaac Hayes all kickstarted their careers in Memphis, a city more traditionally known for blues exports like B.B. King.

The first-ever rock & roll show was held in Memphis.
A July 1954 performance by Elvis Presley at the Levitt Shell is widely considered to be the first-ever rock & roll concert.

Local radio station WDIA was the first station in the entire country not to employ white DJs.
In 1948, WDIA began airing the Tan Town Jubilee program, the country’s first radio show to target African-American listeners. At its peak, all WDIA’s radio hosts were black — including a young B.B. King.

“Green Onions,” Booker T. and the MG’s immortal instrumental, was recorded as an afterthought during a Stax session.
While waiting for Sun Records artist Billy Lee Riley to show up to a session, the hotshot house band for Stax cut two tunes of their own, with “Green Onions” becoming a hit.


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