Category:Sun Records artists
Pages in category "Sun Records artists"
The following 48 pages are in this category, out of 48 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 48 pages are in this category, out of 48 total, this list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Sun Records – Sun Records is an American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1952. Sun was the first company to record Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Sun Records discovered and first recorded such influential musicians as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Presleys recording contract was sold to RCA Victor Records for $35,000 in 1955 to relieve Suns financial difficulties. Before those records, Sun had concentrated mainly on African-American musicians because Phillips loved rhythm and blues, Sun record producer and engineer Jack Clement discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis while Phillips was away on a trip to Florida. The original Sun Records logo was designed by John Gale Parker, Jr. a resident of Memphis, Sun was founded with the financial aid of Jim Bulliet, one of many record executives for whom Phillips had scouted artists before 1952. Some of the artists at Sun were Roscoe Gordon, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton, Tex Weiss, Charlie Rich, Howlin Wolf, Bill Justis. In the Lovin Spoonful song Nashville Cats, John Sebastian used poetic license when he referred to Sun as the Yellow Sun Records from Nashville, there were also sixteen female recording artists whose records were released on the Sun and Phillips international label. These include Barbara Pittman and the Miller Sisters, in 1969, Mercury Records label producer Shelby Singleton purchased the Sun label from Phillips. Singleton merged his operations into Sun International Corporation, which re-released and re-packaged compilations of Suns early artists in the early 1970s and it later introduced rockabilly tribute singer Jimmy Orion Ellis in 1980, with Orion taking on the persona of Elvis Presley. The company remains in business as Sun Entertainment Corporation, and currently licenses its brand, Sun Entertainment also includes SSS International Records, Plantation Records, Amazon Records, Red Bird Records, Blue Cat Records among other labels the company acquired over the years. Its website sells collectible items and compact discs bearing the original 1950s Sun logo, Sun Records is located in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been mainly a reissue label since the 1970s but signed country musician Julie Roberts to a contract in 2013. The music of many Sun Records musicians helped lay part of the foundation of late 20th-century rock and roll and influenced younger musicians. In 2001, Paul McCartney appeared on a compilation album titled Good Rockin Tonight. List of record labels Elvis Presleys Sun recordings Johnny Cashs Sun recordings Roy Orbisons Sun Recordings Official website Sun Studio official site Chronology, session files, discographySun Records – Sun Records
2. Bill Black – William Patton Bill Black, Jr. was an American musician and bandleader who is noted as one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Black was the bassist in Elvis Presleys early trio after which he formed Bill Blacks Combo, Black was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to a motorman for the Memphis Street Railway. He was the oldest of nine children and his father played popular songs on the banjo and fiddle to entertain the family. Black learned to play music at the age of 14 on an instrument made by his cigar box with a board nailed to it. At the age of sixteen, Black was performing music on acoustic guitar in local bars. During World War II, Black was stationed with the U. S. Army at Fort Lee in Virginia, while in the Army, he met Evelyn, who played guitar as the member of a musical family. They married in 1946 and returned to Memphis, Black worked at the Firestone plant. He began playing the bass fiddle, modeling his slap bass technique after one of his idols, Fred Maddox of Maddox Brothers. Black also developed a stage clown persona in the way that Maddox entertained audiences. Black performed as a hillbilly with blacked-out teeth, straw hat. According to his son, Black said his goal was always to give his audience a few moments of entertainment, in 1952, Black began playing club and radio shows with guitarist Scotty Moore. Along with two guitarists and a fiddler, they performed country music tunes by Hank Williams and Red Foley in Doug Poindexters band. Black and Moore also played in a band with Paul Burlison, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette on steel guitar, in July 1954, Sam Phillips of Sun Records asked Black and Moore to play back-up for the as-yet-unknown Elvis Presley. Black played slap bass with guitarist Scotty Moore, while Elvis Presley played rhythm guitar, neither musician was overly impressed with Presley, but they agreed a studio session would be useful to explore his potential. On July 5,1954, the trio met at Sun studios to rehearse, according to Moore, the first song they recorded was I Love You Because, but after a few country music songs that werent impressive they decided to take a break. During the break, Presley began acting the fool with Arthur Crudups Thats All Right, when the other two musicians joined in, Phillips taped the song. Get that on the radio and theyll run us out of town, the next day, the group recorded four more songs, including bluegrass musician Bill Monroes Blue Moon of Kentucky, which he had written and recorded as a slow waltz. Sources credit Bill Black with initiating the song, with Presley, Moore said, Bill is the one who came up with Blue Moon of KentuckyBill Black – Bill Black hams it up on the deck of the USS Hancock during the first appearance on Milton Berle 's Texaco Star Theater
3. The Blue Moon Boys – The Blue Moon Boys were a band formed by Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. The group members were introduced by Sun Studio owner Sam Phillips in 1954, fontana, who joined the group during a Louisiana Hayride tour in 1955. On July 18,1953, Elvis Presley recorded a single in the studio as a gift for his mothers birthday, Presleys recording was managed by Phillips secretary, Marion Keisker, who also kept a demo recording for the absent owner of the studio. On July 5,1954, the trio headed to the Sun Studios for a recording test together, Phillips played the recording for WHBQs DJ Dewey Phillips, who played the song on his regular show next night, on July 8. On July 9, the trio recorded what became the flipside to Thats All Right, the single was released on July 19,1954, and was a local hit in Arkansas, Mississippi and New Orleans. Scotty Moore became the manager of the band, and they toured several cities in the south, the Blue Moon Boys appeared on a regular basis at Eagles Nest club in Memphis, Tennessee. Sam Phillips booked the band an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, after the failure, Phillips contacted Oprys main competition, the Louisiana Hayride. They made their first appearance on October 16,1954, Presley sang Thats All Right followed by the flipside of the record, Blue Moon of Kentucky. The performance was received and they signed a one-year contract to be official members of the Hayride. Fontana joined the band as the drummer on a regular basis after having played occasionally with them, in January 1956 Presley signed a $40,000 contract with RCA Records, recording for the first time on January 10,1956, Mae Axtons Heartbreak Hotel. The Blue Moon Boys continued appearing on Presleys recordings as well as in movies like Loving You, the first live appearance of the band since Presleys army return was in 1960, during The Frank Sinatra Shows special Welcome Home Elvis. The bands last appearance was during the Elvis 1968 Comeback Special—minus Bill Black, in 2007, the Blue Moon Boys were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in NashvilleThe Blue Moon Boys – (from left to right) Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, Bill Black
4. Eddie Bond – Eddie Bond was an American rockabilly singer and guitarist. In the mid-1950s, Bond recorded for Mercury Records and toured with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Warren Smith and he is infamous for having rejected the then 18-year-old Elvis Presley, who was auditioning for Bonds band. It was shortly thereafter that Presley recorded his first single at Sun Records, Bonds contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He died of Alzheimers disease in 2013,1982 - Rocking Daddy from Memphis Tennessee Listing of all Eddie Bonds songs and alternativesEddie Bond – Eddie Bond
5. Sonny Burgess – Albert Austin Sonny Burgess is an American rockabilly guitarist and singer. In the early 1950s, Burgess played boogie woogie music in dance halls, Burgess, Kern Kennedy, Johnny Ray Hubbard, and Gerald Jackson formed a boogie-woogie band they called the Rocky Road Ramblers. In 1954, following a stint in the US Army, Burgess re-formed the band, calling them the Moonlighters after the Silver Moon Club in Newport, after advice from record producer Sam Phillips, the group expanded to form the Pacers. The bands first record was We Wanna Boogie in 1956 for Sun Records, in Memphis, the flip side was Red Headed Woman. The songs have been described as among the most raucous, energy-filled recordings released during the first flowering of rock and their onstage antics in performance were similarly described. Like other artists such as Ray Harris, Hayden Thompson, Billy Lee Riley and Warren Smith, Burgess disbanded the group in 1971 but later found a new audience in Europe. In 1990, Burgess toured with The Sun Rhythm Section and this group was composed of former session musicians from the Sun Recording Studio. Beside Burgess, band members included Paul Burlison, J. L. Smoochy Smith, Stan Kessler, Marcus Van Story, fontana was a member of Elvis Presleys band. Burgess was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Europe in 1999 and his group, now called The Legendary Pacers, was a hit that same year in a rockabilly concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. It recorded Still Rockin’ and Rollin’ in 2000, voted the best new album in the country, the group was inducted in 2002 into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Sonny Burgess & The Legendary Pacers performed at the 2006 National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia to large, Burgess hosts a weekly radio program called We Wanna Boogie with co-host June Taylor. The program, named after his first record, airs Sunday nights from 5-7pm Central Time on 91. 9FM KASU in Jonesboro, Burgess was born on a farm near Newport, Arkansas to Albert and Esta Burgess. He graduated from Newport High School in 1948, Burgess has two brothers, and three sisters. Burgess was formerly married to Joann Adams starting in 1956, between performances, Burgess lives in Newport. Live at Sun Studios Sonny Burgess and the Pacers Critical acclaim in 1996 Radio program hosted by Sonny Burgess, youTube video of We Wanna Boogie with Sonny Burgess with pianist Kern Kennedy playin at High Rockabilly 2005Sonny Burgess – Burgess playing at Riverfest in Little Rock, Arkansas, May 2013.
6. Johnny Carroll – Johnny Carroll was an American rockabilly musician. Born John Lewis Carrell, Carroll began recording for Decca Records in the middle of the 1950s and he released several singles, but none of them saw significant success, though they are now critically acclaimed. His records were eclipsed by the success of other rockabilly and early rock & roll musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and his career ended toward the end of the 1950s, but he made a comeback in 1974 with a Gene Vincent tribute song. He continued to record well into the 1980s, for many years he was connected with the Cellar Club in Fort Worth, Texas and other Cellar Clubs around the state. He died of liver failure on January 13,1995, and is buried in his hometown of Godley, in 1996 a 33-track reissue of his early recordings was released as Rock Baby Rock It, 1955-1960. Early recordings Later recordings Gene Vincent Rock Rock, Baby, Rock It Texabilly Screamin Demon Heatwave Crazy Hot Rock Shades of VincentJohnny Carroll – Johnny Carroll
7. Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the music artists of all time. Although primarily remembered as an music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll and he traditionally began his concerts with the simple Hello, Im Johnny Cash, followed by his signature Folsom Prison Blues. Much of Cashs music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption and his signature songs include I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Get Rhythm, and Man in Black. During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, notably Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Cash was born on February 26,1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, one of seven children born to Ray Cash and Carrie Cloveree. He was mostly of Scottish and English ancestry, and as an adult traced his surname to 11th-century Fife, Scotland, after meeting with the then-laird of Falkland, Fife, Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear the name of his family. At birth, Cash was named J. R. Cash, when Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force, he was not permitted to use initials as a first name, so he changed his name to John R. Cash. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he took Johnny Cash as his stage name, the Cash children were, Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, J. R. Reba, Joanne, and Tommy. Tommy Cash also became a country artist. In March 1935, when Cash was three years old, the family settled in Dyess, Arkansas and he started working in cotton fields at age five, singing along with his family while working. The family farm was flooded on at least two occasions, which inspired him to write the song Five Feet High and Rising. His familys economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs, Cash was very close to his older brother, Jack. In May 1944, Jack was pulled into a head saw in the mill where he worked and was almost cut in two. He suffered for over a week before he died on May 20,1944, Cash often spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over this incident. Jack insisted on working, as the family needed the money, on his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of Heaven and angels. Decades later, Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in Heaven, Cashs early memories were dominated by gospel music and radio. Taught guitar by his mother and a friend, Cash began playing and writing songs at the age of twelveJohnny Cash – Cash in 1969
8. Jack Clement – Jack Henderson Clement was an American singer, songwriter, and record and film producer. Raised and educated in Memphis, Clement was performing at an age, playing guitar. Before embarking on a career in music, he served in the United States Marines, nicknamed Cowboy Jack Clement, during his student days, he played steel guitar with a local band. In 1956 he was part of one of the events in rock. There, Clement worked with stars such as Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins. Most importantly, he discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis while Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Florida, one of those recordings, Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On, was selected in 2005 for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. In 1957, Clement wrote the song Ballad of a Teenage Queen and he produced Cashs number 1 hit Ring of Fire in 1963. Clement performed Guess Things Happen That Way on the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute show on CMT in November 2003, in 1958 Clement released the single Ten Years, which was covered by Johnny Western, Rex Allen and Roger Mews. In 1959, Clement accepted an offer to work as a producer at RCA in Nashville, in 1961, he moved to Beaumont, Texas, joining the producer and publisher Bill Hall in opening Gulf Coast Recording Studio and the Hall-Clement publishing company. In 1971, he co-founded the J-M-I Record Company and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973. He also produced albums by Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings, Clement was involved in a few film projects as a singer or songwriter of soundtracks. He produced the 1975 horror film Dear Dead Delilah, the last film performance by the actress Agnes Moorehead, in 1987, Clement was approached by U2 to record at Sun Studio in Memphis. He had never heard of U2 but took the session upon the urging of someone in his office, portions of the two sessions also appear in the film Rattle and Hum. Clement hosted a program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Music City Walk of Fame, on June 25,2011, a fire destroyed his home and studio on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville. Clement was unhurt, but many priceless recordings and memorabilia were lost, on April 10,2013, it was announced Clement would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. On August 8,2013, Clement died at his home in Nashville and he had suffered from liver cancer. He had two children, a daughter, Alison, also a singer and writer, and a son, Niles, an engineer and photographerJack Clement – Clement in 1978
9. James Cotton – James Henry Cotton was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, who performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band. He played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing, Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin Wolfs band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips, in 1955, he was recruited by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band. Cotton became Muddys bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965, in 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with the Muddy Waters band. He eventually left to form his own full-time touring group and his first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag. In the 1970s, Cotton played harmonica on Muddy Waters Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, born in Tunica, Mississippi, Cotton became interested in music when he first heard Sonny Boy Williamson II on the radio. He left home with his uncle and moved to West Helena, Arkansas, for many years Cotton claimed that he told Williamson that he was an orphan and that Williamson took him in and raised him, a story he admitted in recent years is not true. However, Williamson did mentor Cotton during his early years, Williamson left the South to live with his estranged wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leaving his band in Cottons hands. Cotton was quoted as saying, He just gave it to me, but I couldnt hold it together cause I was too young and crazy in those days an everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me. Cotton played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing and he began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin Wolfs band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings as a solo artist for Sun Records in Memphis in 1953, in 1954, he recorded an electric blues single Cotton Crop Blues, which featured a heavily distorted power chord–driven electric guitar solo by Pat Hare. Cotton began working with the Muddy Waters Band around 1955, Cottons first recording session with Waters took place in June 1957, and he alternated with Little Walter on Waterss recording sessions until the end of the decade. In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano and their performances were captured by producer Samuel Charters on volume two of the Vanguard recording Chicago/The Blues/Today. After leaving Waterss band in 1966, Cotton toured with Janis Joplin while pursuing a solo career and he formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. The band mainly performed its own arrangements of blues and R&B from the 1950s and 1960s. Cottons band included a section, like that of Bobby Blands. After Blands death, his son told news media that Bland had recently discovered that Cotton was his half-brother, in the 1970s, Cotton recorded several albums for Buddah Records. He played harmonica on Waterss Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, in the 1980s he recorded for Alligator Records in Chicago, he rejoined the Alligator roster in 2010James Cotton – James Cotton 2007
10. Jimmy "Orion" Ellis – Jimmy Hughes Bell, stage name Orion, was an American singer. Ellis appeared with artists including Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tammy Wynette, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Greenwood, Gary Morris. Ellis was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, United States, into a single parent home and his birth certificate states the mother as Gladys Bell and the father as Vernon. When he was two, Gladys left him at the Montgomery Childrens Home where he was put up for adoption, the child was taken in by R. F. Ellis and his wife Mary Faye, where his surname was changed to Ellis. He sang Peace in the Valley, subsequently, Ellis won the finals of a statewide talent contest in Alabama where he sang Unchained Melody and The Days of Wine and Roses accompanied by a piano. The prizes included a trip to the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, Ellis later settled into a two-year athletic scholarship at Middle Georgia Junior College in the town of Cochran. He transferred to Livingston State University where he started playing small clubs and he got a One Shot Deal with Challenger Records in 1974 before moving to the small Boblo Records label. One of his five singles for Boblo was Im Not Trying To Be Elvis and he was professionally known as Orion, and his double-edged claim to fame was that his natural speaking and singing voice sounded very similar to that of Presley. Ellis hailed from Orrville, Alabama and began his career in 1964. In 1978 he signed with the new owner of Sun Records, earlier, in 1972, he had recorded a cover of Presleys first Sun single, Thats Alright, Mama and Blue Moon of Kentucky, in Florida. It was offered to Shelby Singleton at Sun by the Florida record producer, the single was released on the Sun label with a question mark appearing on the record in place of the artists name. This marketing tactic effectively, and inadvertently, started the Elvis is alive conspiracy theory, after his 1978 signing, Ellis became intertwined in a marketing campaign involving books, records, a mysterious cassette tape recording and a mask. Capitalising on the vocal similarity to Presley, the mask and imagery, people like Shelby Singleton, Gail Brewer-Giorgio. In 1980, Cash Box magazine included Orion’s next two albums, Sunrise and Trio Plus, in their list of Top 75 albums, the following year, the magazine rated him one of the three most promising male Country artists. Orion continued to put singles on the Country chart, A Stranger In My Place, Texas Tea and his final Country chart single was the Top 70 double-sided entrant, Morning, Noon and Night/Honky Tonk Heaven. By 1983, however, the charade had definitely lost its charm for Ellis as Orion, instead of listing Ellis first album on the label, Singleton printed a question mark. Ellis first album appearance for Sun was as a singer singing duet with Jerry Lee Lewis on ten tracks of the 1978 album Duets. Charlie Rich sang along with Lewis on two other songs, again, the speculation was that Presley had sung on the songs, particularly Save the Last Dance for MeJimmy "Orion" Ellis – Photo of Jimmy's alias trademark look "Orion". Photo by Shelby Singleton, used with permission
11. Sleepy John Estes – John Adams Estes, known as Sleepy John Estes, was an American blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. Estes was born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee, either in 1899 or 1900, in 1915, his father, a sharecropper who played guitar, moved the family to Brownsville, Tennessee. Not long after, Estes lost the sight in his eye when a friend threw a rock at him. Estes continued to work on and off both musicians for more than fifty years. He also performed in shows with Willie Newbern. At the suggestion of Jim Jackson, Estes made his debut as a recording artist in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1929 and he recorded the tracks Drop Down Mama and Someday Baby Blues with Nixon in 1935. He later worked with Son Bonds and Charlie Pickett and he later recorded for Decca Records and Bluebird Records, with his last prewar recording session taking place in 1941. He made a return to recording at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1952, recording Runnin Around and Rats in My Kitchen. Estes sang with a distinctive crying vocal style and he frequently teamed with more capable musicians, like Yank Rachell, Hammie Nixon, and the piano player Jab Jones. Estes sounded so much like an old man, even on his early records, by the time he was tracked down by the blues historians Bob Koester and Samuel Charters in 1962, he was completely blind and living in poverty. He resumed touring with Nixon and recording for Delmark Records and his later records are generally considered less interesting than his prewar output. Estes, Nixon and Rachell appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, in Lawyer Clark Blues, about the lawyer and later judge and senator Hugh L. Clarke, whose family lived in Brownsville, Estes sang that Clark let him off the hook for an offense. He also dispensed advice on matters and chronicled his own attempt to reach a recording studio for a session by hopping a freight train. His lyrics combined keen observation with an ability to turn an effective phrase, some accounts attribute the nickname Sleepy to a blood pressure disorder or narcolepsy. Delmark Records founder Bob Koester claimed that Estes simply had a tendency to withdraw from his surroundings into drowsiness whenever life was too cruel or too boring to warrant full attention. Estes suffered a stroke while preparing for a European tour and died on June 5,1977, at his home of 17 years in Brownsville, Haywood County and he is buried at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery in Durhamville, Lauderdale County, Tennessee. His grave marker reads, Sleepy John Estes, Aint goin to worry Poor Johns mind anymoreIn MemoryJohn Adam EstesJan. 25, 1899June 5, 1977Blues PioneerGuitarist – Songwriter – Poet The epitaph, Aint goin to worry Poor Johns mind anymore is derived from his song Someday Baby BluesSleepy John Estes – Grave of Sleepy John Estes (2008)
12. Rosco Gordon – Rosco N. Gordon III was an American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known for his 1952 No.1 R&B hit single, Booted, Gordon was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up on Florida street. He was a pioneer of the Memphis blues style and he made a number of his early recordings for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Gordon played piano in a known as the Rosco rhythm. This rhythm was an influence on the Jamaican pianist Theophilus Beckford, Booted and No More Doggin were both released in 1952. Phillips sold the master of Booted to both RPM and Chess Records, and both released the track as a single. The RPM release reached No.1 on the Billboard R&B record chart, Chess and the Bihari brothers later settled the conflict, with the Biharis getting exclusive rights to Gordon and Chess signing Howlin Wolf to an exclusive contract. Gordons last single to reach the charts was Just a Little Bit, in 1962, he gave up the music industry and moved to Queens, New York, with his new wife, where he purchased a partnership in a laundry business. Following his wifes death in 1984, he returned to performing in the New York area. C, the documentary, The Road to Memphis, aired on PBS television. Six weeks after filming finished, Gordon died of an attack at his apartment in Rego Park. He was interred in the Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey, No More Doggin was covered by the Groundhogs on their 1972 album Hogwash and by Colin James on his 1993 album Colin James and the Little Big Band. Rosco Gordon full biography Rosco Gordon discography on Soulful Kinda Music website PBS website for The Road to Memphis Rosco Gordon overview Rosco Gordon interview Rosco Gordon biographyRosco Gordon – Rosco Gordon
13. Big Walter Horton – Walter Horton, better known as Big Walter or Walter Shakey Horton, was an American blues harmonica player. A quiet, unassuming, shy man, he is remembered as one of the premier players in the history of blues. Willie Dixon once called Horton the best harmonica player I ever heard, Horton was born in Horn Lake, Mississippi. He was playing the harmonica by the time he was five years old, in his early teens, he lived in Memphis, Tennessee. Like many of his peers, he lived on an income during much of his career. In the 1930s he played with numerous blues performers in the Mississippi Delta region and it is generally accepted that his first recordings were made in Memphis, backing the guitarist Little Buddy Doyle on Doyles recordings for Okeh Records and Vocalion Records in 1939. These recordings were in the duo format popularized by Sleepy John Estes and his harmonicist Hammie Nixon. On these recordings, Hortons style was not yet fully realized and he eventually stopped playing the harp for a living, because of poor health, and worked mainly outside the music industry in the 1940s. By the early 1950s, he was playing music again and he was among the first to record for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis, who later recorded Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. His recordings for Sun include piano accompaniment by the young Phineas Newborn, Hortons instrumental track recorded around this time, Easy, was based on Ivory Joe Hunters I Almost Lost My Mind. During the early 1950s he appeared on the Chicago blues scene, frequently playing with Memphis and Delta musicians who had moved north, including the guitarists Eddie Taylor. When Junior Wells left the Muddy Waters band at the end of 1952, Horton replaced him long enough to play on one session, in January 1953. Also known as Mumbles and Shakey, Horton was active in the Chicago blues scene during the 1960s, from the early 1960s onward, he recorded and appeared frequently as a sideman with Taylor, Shines, Johnny Young, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon and many others. He toured extensively, usually as a musician, and in the 1970s he performed at blues and folk music festivals in the U. S. and Europe. He also performed on recordings by blues and rock stars, such as Fleetwood Mac, in October 1968, while touring the United Kingdom, he recorded the album Southern Comfort with the former Savoy Brown and future Mighty Baby guitarist Martin Stone. Two of the best compilation albums of his work are Mouth-Harp Maestro, also notable is the album Big Walter Horton and Carey Bell, released by Alligator Records in 1972. He worked at blues festivals and often performed at the Maxwell Street market in Chicago, in 1977, he played on the Muddy Waters album Im Ready, produced by Johnny Winter. He also recorded for Blind Pig Records during this period, Horton accompanied John Lee Hooker in the 1980 film The Blues BrothersBig Walter Horton – Big Walter Horton
14. B.B. King – Riley Benjamin King, known professionally as B. B. King, was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. King introduced a style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. King was known for performing throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he appeared at 342 shows. King was born on a plantation in Berclair, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14,2015, from congestive heart failure and diabetic complications. Riley Benjamin King was born on September 16,1925, on a plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi. He considered the city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. When Riley was four years old, his mother left his father for another man, so the boy was raised by his grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael. While young, King sang in the choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. King was attracted to the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ because of its music, the local minister led worship with a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar. The minister taught King his first three chords and it seems that at the age of 12 he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mothers first cousin. In November 1941 King Biscuit Time first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena and it was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation, a self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee, White took him in for the next ten months. However, King returned to Mississippi shortly afterward, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit and he performed on Sonny Boy Williamsons radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. Kings appearances led to engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West MemphisB.B. King – King at the 2009 North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam
15. Sleepy LaBeef – Sleepy LaBeef is the stage name of Thomas Paulsley LaBeff, an American rockabilly musician. LaBeef was born in Smackover, Arkansas, the youngest of 10 children and he received the nickname Sleepy as the result of a lazy eye. He moved to Houston, Texas, when he was 18, there, he sang gospel music on local radio and put together a bar band to play venues as well as radio programs such as the Houston Jamboree and Louisiana Hayride. In the 1950s, as the component of rock and roll became evident, LaBeef began recording singles in the genre, his first. In 1964, he moved to Nashville and moved to a more country style. His first genuine hit was 1968s Every Day, which peaked at No.73 on the U. S. Billboard Country charts, after moving to Plantation Records in 1969, he scored a second hit in 1971 with Blackland Farmer, which charted at No.67. Around this time LaBeef also starred in the horror movie The Exotic Ones, LaBeef transferred to Sun Records in the 1970s and continued releasing albums and touring widely, his popularity flagged in America but rose in Europe. The 1980s saw him sign to Rounder Records, where he released albums into the 1990s, in January 2012, LaBeef traveled to Nashville to record a film a live concert and record in historic RCA Studio B, all produced by noted bassist Dave Pomeroy. A documentary/concert DVD, Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again and soundtrack CD was released on April 22,2013 by Earwave RecordsSleepy LaBeef – Go Ahead on Baby by Sleepy LaBeef, Columbia late 1960s.
16. Dickey Lee – Royden Dickey Lipscomb, known professionally as Dickey Lee, is an American pop/country singer and songwriter, best known for the 1960s teenage tragedy songs Patches and Laurie. Lee made his first recordings in his hometown of Memphis for Tampa Records and he achieved his first chart success in 1962, when his composition She Thinks I Still Care was a hit for George Jones. Later that year, Patches, written by Barry Mann and Larry Kobler and recorded by Lee for Smash Records, the song tells in waltz-time the story of teenage lovers of different social classes whose parents forbid their love. The girl drowns herself in the dirty old river, the singer concludes, It may not be right, but Ill join you tonight/ Patches Im coming to you. Because of the teen suicide theme, the song was banned by a number of radio stations, however, it sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Lee had a No.14 hit in 1963 with a song he co-wrote, in 1965, he returned to teen tragedy with Laurie, a song related to the urban legends known as the vanishing hitchhiker and Resurrection Mary. After the 1960s, Lee devoted his efforts to country performing and songwriting. He also co-wrote several songs with Bob McDill, including Someone Like You and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee is included as co-writer and singer on singer-songwriter Michael Saxells 2005 album Wonky Windmill on the song Two Men, allmusic NAMM Oral History Interview July 10,2015Dickey Lee – Dickey Lee at Alpena High School, Alpena, Michigan, December 2012
17. Jerry Lee Lewis – Jerry Lee Lewis is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as rock & rolls first great wild man, a pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music, Lewis made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis. Crazy Arms sold 300,000 copies in the South, and he followed this with Great Balls of Fire, Breathless and High School Confidential. However, Lewiss rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to his 13-year-old first cousin once removed when he was 23 years old and he had minimal success in the charts following the scandal, and his popularity quickly eroded. His live performance fees plummeted from $10,000 per night to $250, in the meantime he was determined to gain back some of his popularity. In the early 1960s, he did not have much success, with few exceptions. His live performances at this time were increasingly wild and energetic and his 1964 live album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg is regarded by music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest live rock albums ever. In 1968 Lewis made a transition into country music and had hits with such as Another Place. His No.1 country hits included To Make Love Sweeter for You, There Must Be More to Love Than This, Would You Take Another Chance on Me and Me and Bobby McGee. Lewiss successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Boppers Chantilly Lace, in the 21st century Lewis continues to tour around the world and still releases new albums. His album Last Man Standing is his best selling to date and this was followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of Lewiss career. Lewis has a dozen gold records in rock and country. He won several Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, in 1989, his life was chronicled in the movie Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed his box set All Killer, No Filler, in 2004, they ranked him number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Lewis is the last surviving member of Sun Records Million Dollar Quartet and the Class of 55 album and his parents mortgaged their farm to buy him a piano. Lewis was influenced by an older cousin, Carl McVoy, the radio, and the sounds from Haneys Big House. On the live album By Request, More of the Greatest Live Show on Earth and he was also influenced by the Great American Songbook and popular country singers like Jimmie Rodgers and Hank WilliamsJerry Lee Lewis – Lewis performing in Memphis, April 2011
18. Million Dollar Quartet – An article about the session was published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title Million Dollar Quartet. The recording was first released in Europe in 1981 as The Million Dollar Quartet with 17 tracks, a few years later more tracks were discovered and released as The Complete Million Dollar Session. In 1990, the recordings were released in the United States as Elvis Presley - The Million Dollar Quartet and this session is considered a seminal moment in rock and roll history. The jam session seems to have happened by pure chance, lewiss first Sun single would be released a few days later. Sometime in the afternoon, 21-year-old Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist now with RCA Victor, arrived to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend. After chatting with Phillips in the room, Presley listened to the playback of Perkins’ session. Then he went into the studio and some later, the jam session began. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, jack Clement was engineering that day and remembers saying to himself I think Id be remiss not to record this, and so he did. After running through a number of songs, Elvis and girlfriend Evans slipped out as Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano, Cash wrote in Cash that no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis. During the session, Phillips called a newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar. Bob Johnson, the entertainment editor, came over to the studios with UPI representative Leo Sora with photographer George Pierce. Johnson wrote an article about the session, which appeared the day in the Press-Scimitar under the headline Million Dollar Quartet. The article contained the now-famous photograph of Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins, in 1969, Shelby Singleton bought Sun Records. He began a search of the Sun catalogue, browsing through more than 10,000 hours of tape. At the same time, Singleton licensed much, if not all, as a result of Singleton’s and Charlys searches, a portion of the session came to light. This was issued in Europe in 1981 as Charly/Sun LP #1006 The Million Dollar Quartet, several years later, additional material was discovered. This resulted in the release of the 1987 Charly/Sun 2-LP set #CDX20 The Complete Million Dollar Session, a 2006 50th-anniversary issue of the session was released on RCA, containing approximately twelve minutes of previously unavailable material and placing the titles in the original recorded sequence. The source of the recording was a copy of the owned by Elvis PresleyMillion Dollar Quartet – The million Dollar Quartet. L to R: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash
19. Little Milton – Milton was born James Milton Campbell, Jr. in the Mississippi Delta town of Inverness and raised in Greenville by a farmer and local blues musician. By age twelve he was a musician, chiefly influenced by T-Bone Walker and his blues and rock. He joined the Rhythm Aces in the part of the 1950s. One of the group was Eddie Cusic who taught Milton to play the guitar, in 1952, while still a teenager playing in local bars, he caught the attention of Ike Turner, who was at that time a talent scout for Sam Phillips Sun Records. He signed a contract with the label and recorded a number of singles, none of them broke through onto radio or sold well at record stores, however, and Milton left the Sun label by 1955. As a record producer, Milton helped bring artists such as Albert King and Fontella Bass to fame, after a number of small format and regional hits, his 1962 single, So Mean to Me, broke onto the Billboard R&B chart, eventually peaking at #14. Following a short break to tour, managing other acts, and spending time recording new material, he returned to music in 1965 with a polished sound. After the ill-received Blind Man, he released hit singles. The first, Were Gonna Make It, a soul song, topped the R&B chart and broke through onto Top 40 radio. He followed the song with #4 R&B hit Whos Cheating Who, all three songs were featured on his album, Were Gonna Make It, released that summer. With the death of Leonard Chess the same year, Miltons distributor, Checker Records fell into disarray, and Milton joined the Stax label two years later. Adding complex orchestration to his works, Milton scored hits with Thats What Love Will Make You Do and What It Is from his album, What It Is. He appeared in the film, Wattstax, which was released in 1973. Stax, however, had been losing money since late in the decade and was forced into bankruptcy in 1975. His last hit single, Age Aint Nothin But a Number, was released in 1983 from the album of the same name, in 1988, Little Milton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and won a W. C. His final album, Think of Me, was released in May 2005 on the Telarc imprint, milton’s song Let Me Down Easy was recorded by the Spencer Davis Group on The Second Album, but his authorship was not acknowledged on the record. He released a single of it himself in 1968 on Checker and it was also chosen by Etta James as the final track in her final album The Dreamer in 2011. Milton died on August 4,2005 from complications following a stroke. C, — Little Milton Official Little Milton website including biography Discography, complete with original catalogue issue numbers Official Little Milton storeLittle Milton – Little Milton in France, 1982.
20. Roy Orbison – Roy Kelton Orbison, nicknamed the Big O, was an American singer-songwriter and musician, known for his distinctive, impassioned voice, complex compositions and dark emotional ballads. The combination led many critics to describe his music as operatic, between 1960 and 1964,22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40, including Only the Lonely, Crying, and Oh, Pretty Woman. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly and country and he was signed by Sun Records in 1956, but his greatest success came with Monument Records in the early 1960s. His career stagnated in the 1970s, but was revived by several versions of his songs. In 1988, he was a member of the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, along with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and he recorded his last solo album, Mystery Girl, the same year but died of a heart attack shortly thereafter. While most male rock and roll performers in the 1950s and 1960s projected a defiant masculinity, many of Orbisons songs instead conveyed a quiet, almost desperate and his voice ranged from baritone to tenor, and music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range. During performances, he was known for standing still and solitary, and for wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses, which lent an air of mystery to his persona. His honors include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in the year. Rolling Stone placed him at number 37 on their list of the Greatest Artists of All Time, in 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists. Roy Kelton Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas, the son of Orbie Lee Orbison, an oil well driller and car mechanic, and Nadine Vesta Shults. Both of his parents were unemployed during the Great Depression and, searching for work, moved the family to Fort Worth, Texas and he attended Denver Avenue Elementary School until a polio scare prompted the family to return to Vernon. Later, they moved to Wink, Texas, Orbison later described life in Wink as football, oil fields, oil, grease and sand and expressed relief that he was able to leave the desolate town. All the Orbison children were afflicted with poor eyesight, Roy used thick corrective lenses from an early age and he was not confident about his appearance and began dyeing his nearly-white hair black when he was still young. He was quiet and self-effacing, remarkably polite and obliging — a product, biographer Alan Clayson wrote and he was readily available to sing, however, and often became the focus of attention when he did. He considered his voice memorable, if not great, on Roys sixth birthday, his father gave him a guitar. He later recalled that by the age of seven, I was finished, you know, for anything else and his major musical influence as a youth was country music. He was particularly moved by Lefty Frizzells singing, with its slurred syllables and he also enjoyed Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers. One of the first musicians he heard in person was Ernest Tubb, in West Texas, he was exposed to many forms of music, sepia, Tex-Mex, the orchestral arrangements of Mantovani and cajunRoy Orbison – Roy Orbison in 1965
21. Junior Parker – Herman Junior Parker was an American Memphis blues singer and musician. He is best remembered for his voice, which has been described as honeyed. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, one music journalist noted, For years Junior Parker deserted downhome harmonica blues for uptown blues-soul music. Other birth dates in 1927 or 1932 have been suggested, and he sang in gospel groups as a child and, beginning in his teenage years, played on various blues circuits. His biggest influence as a player was Sonny Boy Williamson. Around 1950 he was a member of an ad hoc Memphis group, in 1951 he formed his own band, the Blue Flames, with the guitarist Pat Hare. Parker was discovered in 1952 by Ike Turner, who signed him to Modern Records and he put out one single on this record label, Youre My Angel. This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips, and he, there they produced three successful songs, Feelin Good, Love My Baby, and Mystery Train, later covered by Elvis Presley. For Presleys version of Mystery Train, Scotty Moore borrowed the riff from Parkers Love My Baby. Love My Baby and Mystery Train are considered important contributions to the rockabilly genre, later in 1953, Parker toured with Bobby Bland and Johnny Ace, and also joined Duke Records. Parker and Bland headed the highly successful Blues Consolidated Revue, which performed on the southern blues circuit. His success was limited after he left Duke in 1966 and he recorded for various labels, including Mercury, Blue Rock, Minit, and Capitol. Parkers recording of Annie Get Your Yo-Yo was later sampled by the Wiseguys on their 1999 hit Start the Commotion, Parker died on November 18,1971, at age 39, in Blue Island, Illinois, during surgery for a brain tumorJunior Parker – Junior Parker
22. Carl Perkins – Carl Lee Perkins was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, beginning in 1954. His best-known song is Blue Suede Shoes, according to Charlie Daniels, Carl Perkins songs personified the rockabilly era, and Carl Perkins sound personifies the rockabilly sound more so than anybody involved in it, because he never changed. Perkins songs were recorded by artists as influential as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney claimed that if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles. Called the King of Rockabilly, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and he also received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Perkins was born near Tiptonville, Tennessee, the son of sharecroppers, Buck. He grew up hearing Southern gospel music sung by friends in church. During spring and autumn, school days would be followed by a few hours of work in the fields, in the summer, workdays were 12 to 14 hours, from can to cant. Perkins and his brother Jay together would earn 50 cents a day, All his family members worked, so there was enough money for beans and potatoes, tobacco for Perkinss father, and occasionally the luxury of a five-cent bag of hard candy. On Saturday nights Perkins would listen to the Grand Ole Opry on his fathers radio, Roy Acuffs broadcasts inspired him to ask his parents for a guitar. Since they could not afford one, his father made one from a cigar box, finally, a neighbor in hard times offered to sell his dented and scratched Gene Autry model guitar with its worn-out strings. Buck Perkins bought it for his son for a couple of dollars, Perkins taught himself parts of Acuffs Great Speckled Bird and The Wabash Cannonball, having heard them played on the Opry. He also cited Bill Monroes fast playing and vocals as an early influence, Perkins learned more about the guitar from John Westbrook, an African American field worker in his sixties. Uncle John, as Perkins called him, played blues and gospel music on an old acoustic guitar, Westbrook advised Perkins to Get down close to it. You can feel it travel down the strangs, come through your head, Perkins could not afford new strings, and when they broke he had to retie them. The knots cut his fingers when he would slide to another note, so he began bending the notes, Perkins was recruited to be a member of the Lake County Fourth Grade Marching Band. Since his family was too poor to afford them, Lee McCutcheon, the woman in charge of the band, gave him a new shirt, cotton pants, a white band cap. In January 1947, the Perkins family moved from Lake County, Tennessee, to Madison County, a new radio that ran on house current rather than a battery, and the closeness to Memphis exposed Perkins to a greater variety of music. At age fourteen, using the I-IV-V chord progression common in music of the day, he wrote a song that came to be known around Jackson as Let Me Take You to the MovieCarl Perkins – Carl Perkins, c. 1955
23. Elvis Presley – Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is referred to as the King of Rock and Roll. Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis and his music career began there in 1954, when he recorded a song with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was a popularizer of rockabilly. RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, Presleys first RCA single, Heartbreak Hotel, was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. He was regarded as the figure of rock and roll after a series of successful network television appearances. In November 1956, Presley made his debut in Love Me Tender. In 1958, he was drafted into military service, in 1973, Presley featured in the first globally broadcast concert via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii. Several years of drug abuse severely damaged his health. Presley is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century and he won three Grammys, also receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. Presley was born on January 8,1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys Love and Vernon Elvis Presley, Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before his own birth. Thus, as a child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God, where he found his musical inspiration. Although he was in conflict with the Pentecostal church in his later years, rev. Rex Humbard officiated at his funeral, as Presley had been an admirer of Humbards ministry. Presleys ancestry was primarily a Western European mix, including Scots-Irish, Scottish, German, gladyss great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was possibly a Cherokee Native American. Gladys was regarded by relatives and friends as the dominant member of the small family, Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, evincing little ambition. The family often relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance, the Presleys survived the F5 tornado in the 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak. In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of kiting a check written by the landowner, Orville S. Bean and he was jailed for eight months, and Gladys and Elvis moved in with relativesElvis Presley – Presley in a publicity photograph for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock
24. Charlie Rich – Charles Allan Charlie Rich was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. His eclectic style of music was difficult to classify in a single genre, encompassing the rockabilly, jazz, blues, country, soul. In the later part of his life, Rich acquired the nickname the Silver Fox and he is perhaps best remembered for a pair of 1973 hits, Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl. The Most Beautiful Girl topped the U. S. country singles charts, as well as the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles charts, Rich was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015. Rich was born in Colt, Arkansas, to cotton farmers. He graduated from Consolidated High School in Forrest City, where he played saxophone in the band. He was strongly influenced by his parents, members of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Forrest City, as his mother, Helen Rich, played piano, a black sharecropper on the family land named C. J. Allen taught Rich blues piano. He enrolled at Arkansas State College on a scholarship and then transferred to the University of Arkansas as a music major after a football injury. He left after one semester to join the United States Air Force in 1953, while stationed in Enid Oklahoma, he formed the Velvetones, playing jazz and blues and featuring his wife, Margaret Ann, on vocals. He and Margaret Ann Greene had married in 1952, upon leaving the military in 1956, they returned to the West Memphis area to farm 500 acres. He also began performing in clubs around the Memphis area, playing jazz and R&B. During these times, he began writing his own material, in a September 6,2010, NPR airing of a 1992 interview with Fresh Air host Terry Gross, Charlie Rich tells the story, himself, of Bill Justis telling Richs wife those words. In 1958, Rich became a session musician for Sun Records, playing on a variety of records by Lewis, Johnny Cash, Bill Justis, Warren Smith, Billy Lee Riley, Carl Mann. He also wrote songs for Lewis, Cash, and others. His third single for the Sun subsidiary, Phillips International Records, was the 1960 Top 30 hit, Lonely Weekends and it sold more than one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America. These songs were recorded by others to varying degrees of success. Richs career then stalled and he left the struggling Sun label in 1963, signing with a subsidiary of RCA Victor and his first single for Groove, Big Boss Man, was a minor hit, but again, his Chet Atkins-produced follow-ups all stiffed. Rich moved to Smash Records early in 1965, the first single for Smash was Mohair Sam, an R&B-inflected novelty-rock number written by Dallas Frazier, and it became a top 30 pop hitCharlie Rich – Rich in 1973.
25. Billy Lee Riley – Billy Lee Riley was an American rockabilly musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer. His most memorable recordings included Rock with Me Baby and Red Hot, born in Pocahontas, Arkansas, the son of a sharecropper, Riley learned to play guitar from black farm workers. After four years in the Army, Riley first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee and he recorded Trouble Bound for Jack Clement and Slim Wallace. Sam Phillips obtained the rights and released Trouble Bound b/w Rock With Me Baby on September 1,1956. Red Hot was showing a lot of promise as a big hit record, Riley felt that his own chances of chart success were compromised when Phillips diverted resources to Lewis career. He had other Sun recordings and they, likewise, did not have a lot of sales as his promotion had stopped, like other artists such as Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson, Ray Harris, and Warren Smith, chart success largely eluded him. Considered good looking and with wild stage moves, Riley had a solo career with his backing band the Little Green Men. Riley and his Little Green Men were the main Sun studio band and they were Riley, guitarist Roland Janes, drummer J. M. Van Eaton, Marvin Pepper, and Jimmy Wilson, later joined by Martin Willis. In 1960, he left Sun and started Rita Record label with Roland Janes and they produced the national hit record Mountain of Love by Harold Dorman. He later started two other labels, Nita and Mojo, in 1962, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a session musician with Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, and Sammy Davis Jr. among others, as well as recording under various aliases. In the early 1970s, Riley quit music to return to Arkansas to begin his own construction business, rediscovered by Bob Dylan in 1992, who had been a fan since 1956, Riley played rock and roll, blues, and country-blues. His album Hot Damn. was nominated for a Grammy Award and he was injured falling on a slippery department store floor in 2005, requiring two surgeries as a result. In 2006, he released a country CD, Hillbilly Rockin Man, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame reported in summer 2009 that Riley was in poor health, battling stage four colon cancer. Supported by a walker, Billy Lee rocked out on Red Hot and he succumbed to colon cancer on August 2,2009, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 2015, Bob Dylan offered this tribute to Riley, thanking MusiCares for their support in Rileys last years and he did it all, He played, he sang, he wrote. He would have been a star but Jerry Lee came along. And you know what happens when someone like that comes along and you just dont stand a chance. So Billy became what is known in the industry – a condescending term, but sometimes, just sometimes, once in a while, a one-hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star whos got 20 or 30 hits behind himBilly Lee Riley – Billy Lee Riley, Memphis Music Festival, 2008
26. Warren Smith (singer) – Warren Smith was an American rockabilly and country music singer and guitarist. Smith was born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, to Iola and Willie Warren Smith and he was raised by his maternal grandparents in Louise, Mississippi, where they had a small farm and dry goods store. Smith took up the guitar to while away his evenings while in the United States Air Force stationed in San Antonio, by the time of his discharge from the service, he had decided to make a career of music. He moved to West Memphis, Arkansas, and auditioned, successfully, to play the Cotton Club, Phillips liked what he heard, and decided that Rock & Roll Ruby, a song credited to Johnny Cash, would be Smiths first record. Smith recorded it on February 5,1956, Phillips, who was hedging his bets over whether rock and roll would maintain its popularity, released that record with a country crooner, aptly named Id Rather Be Safe Than Sorry, on the flip side. By May 26, Rock & Roll Ruby had hit No.1 on the pop charts. Smiths first record for Sun went on to outsell the first Sun releases by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, in August 1956, Smith went back to the Sun Records studio to record his second release, Ubangi Stomp. This infectious rocker had an incorrect lyric including an African chief with the syntax of a movie Indian, for the B side, Smith recorded the classic ballad Black Jack David. This song, which originated in early 18th-century Britain and survived in various forms in the mountains of the American south, may be the oldest song ever recorded by a rock, although a resounding artistic success, it did not sell as well as Smiths debut. In 1957, Smith recorded So Long, Im Gone, a written by Roy Orbison. But Sun had no cash to promote it at the time as Sam Phillips put every dollar Sun had behind Jerry Lee Lewis Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On. Although Smith continued to make records for Sun, including a cover version of Slim Harpos Got Love If Your Want It. Toward the end of 1958, Smith, seeing his future in music, cut a final record for Sun. In spite of a review in Billboard calling it ultra commercial, like other artists such as Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson, Billy Lee Riley and Ray Harris, chart success largely eluded him. Smith then decided to leave Sun Records, in 1959, Smith and his wife and son moved from Mississippi to California, settling in Sherman Oaks, not far from Johnny and Vivian Cash. Cash offered Smith a spot on his show, but Smith turned it down, seeing himself as a headliner, not a supporting player. In early 1960, Smith signed with Liberty Records, and immediately scored a hit with I Dont Believe Ill Fall in Love Today, which went to No.5 on Billboards Country & Western chart. This record, and Smiths subsequent records, were produced by Joe Allison, Smith scored again with his next record for Liberty, Odds and Ends, Bits and Pieces, written by Harlan HowardWarren Smith (singer) – Smith at the Big D Jamboree
27. The Tennessee Three – The Tennessee Three was the backing band for country music and rockabilly singer Johnny Cash for nearly 25 years, until Cashs reorganizing of the group and naming it The Great Eighties Eight in 1980. The group provided the backing that would come to be recognized by fans as the Johnny Cash sound. Roy Cash, Sr. older brother of Johnny Cash, was manager at an Automobile Sales Company dealership in Memphis. In 1953, while the younger Cash was stationed in Germany with the US Air Force, Luther Perkins joined the staff at Automobile Sales, Grant, Kernodle and Perkins began bringing their guitars to work, and would play together when repair business was slow. When Johnny Cash moved to Memphis after returning from Germany in 1954, Roy Cash introduced him to Grant, Kernodle, the four began to get together in the evenings at Perkins or Grants home and play songs. By 1955, Cash and his bandmates were in the Memphis studio of Sun Records, Kernodle was so nervous that he left the session, not wanting to hold back the group. The band presented themselves as the Tennessee Three, but Phillips suggested that call themselves Johnny Cash. When Cash moved to Columbia Records in 1958, the group followed him, in 1960, drummer W. S. Holland joined the group, which was then renamed The Tennessee Three. Holland has been credited as one of the first country drummers, in the early 1950s, he had collaborated with Cash on recordings, as well as having played with Carl Perkins and the Perkins Brothers Band. In 1961 the group released two singles on Columbia recorded in 1959 as The Tennessee Two and Friend. The four songs would later be included in Cashs greatest hits collection More of Old Golden Throat, Luther Perkins died from injuries sustained in a house fire in August,1968, after reportedly having fallen asleep with a lit cigarette. In 1971, the recorded a instrumental album dedicated to Perkins, The Tennessee Three. Through the 1970s, the Tennessee Three continued to work as Cashs studio, one major exception occurred in 1975 when Columbia Records, seeking to update Cashs sound, had the singer record an album with a new set of session musicians titled John R. Cash. It was one of the only major Cash recordings of the era on which no member of the Tennessee Three participated, the album was unsuccessful and the next album released, Look at Them Beans reinstated both the Tennessee Three as core session musicians and the accompanying Johnny Cash sound. Marshall Grant was fired by Cash in 1980, and Cash chose to discontinue using the name, The Tennessee Three, the band was called The Great Eighties Eight after Grant left. Since that time, others joined the group, with Wootton, in September 1989, Cash hired Kerry Marx and Steve Logan as guitarist and bassist, respectively, and renamed the group The Johnny Cash Show Band. By the early 1990s the band consisted of Bob Wootton, W. S. Holland, Dave Roe, John Carter Cash and this was the final ongoing configuration of the Johnny Cash Show Band until Cashs death in 2003. The group made its final appearance backing Cash on April 6,1999, in 2006, the groups career was revived by then-manager Trevor Chowning, and they recorded and released a tribute album to Johnny Cash titled The Sound Must Go OnThe Tennessee Three – The band with Johnny Cash in 1963.
28. Rufus Thomas – Thomas, Jr. was an American rhythm-and-blues, funk, soul and blues singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ and comic entertainer from Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded for labels, including Chess Records and Sun Records in the 1950s. He is best known for his novelty dance records, including Walking the Dog, Do the Funky Chicken and Push and Pull. According to the Mississippi Blues Commission, Rufus Thomas embodied the spirit of Memphis music perhaps more than any other artist, occupied many important roles in the local scene. He began his career as a tap dancer, vaudeville performer and he later worked as a disc jockey on radio station WDIA in Memphis, both before and after his recordings became successful. He remained active into the 1990s, and as a performer and he was the father of the singers Carla Thomas and Vaneese Thomas and the keyboard player Marvell Thomas. Thomas was born in the community of Cayce, Mississippi. He moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee, around 1920 and his mother was a church woman. Thomas made his debut as a performer at the age of six, by the age of 10, he was a tap dancer, performing on the streets and in amateur productions at Booker T. Washington High School, in Memphis. From the age of 13, he worked with Nat D, after graduating from high school, Thomas attended Tennessee A&I University for one semester, but economic constraints led him to leave to pursue a career as a full-time entertainer. Thomas also began performing in traveling tent shows, in 1936 he joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, an all-black revue that toured the South, as a tap dancer and comedian, sometimes part of a duo, Rufus and Johnny. He married Cornelia Lorene Wilson in 1940, at a service officiated by Aretha Franklins father, Rev. C. L. Franklin, Thomas worked a day job in the American Finishing Company textile bleaching plant, which he continued to do for over 20 years. He also formed a comedy and dancing duo, Rufus and Bones, with Robert Bones Couch, one early winner was B. B. King, and others first discovered by Thomas later in the 1940s included Bobby Bland, in the early 1940s, Thomas began writing and performing his own songs. He regarded Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Gatemouth Moore as his musical influences, as an established performer in Memphis, aged 33 in 1950, Thomas recorded his first 78 rpm single, for Jesse Ericksons small Star Talent label in Dallas, Texas. Thomas said, I just wanted to make a record, I never thought of getting rich. I just wanted to be known, be a recording artist, the record sold five copies and I bought four of them. The record, Ill Be a Good Boy/Im So Worried, gained a Billboard review stating, in 1951 he made his first recordings at Sam Phillips Sun Studio, for the Chess label, but they were not commercially successfulRufus Thomas – Rufus Thomas, "The World's Oldest Teenager".
29. Ike Turner – Izear Luster Ike Turner, Jr. was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, and record producer. An early pioneer of rock and roll, he is most popularly known for his work in the 1960s and 1970s with his then-wife Tina Turner in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Turner began playing piano and guitar when he was eight, forming his group and he employed the group as his backing band for the rest of his life. His first recording, Rocket 88, credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, in 1951 is considered a contender for first rock and roll song. Relocating to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1954, he built the Kings into one of the most renowned acts on the club circuit. There he met singer Anna Mae Bullock, whom he renamed Tina Turner, forming The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Turner recorded for many of the key R&B record labels of the 1950s and 1960s, including Chess, Modern, Trumpet, Flair and Sue. With the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, he graduated to larger labels Blue Thumb, throughout his career Turner won two Grammy Awards and was nominated for three others. With his former wife, Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, addicted to cocaine and crack for at least 15 years, Turner was convicted of drug offenses, serving seventeen months in prison between July 1989 and 1991. He spent the rest of the 1990s free of his addiction, near the end of his life, he returned to live performance as a front man and, returning to his blues roots, produced two albums that were critically well received and award-winning. Turner has frequently referred to as a great innovator of Rock and Roll by contemporaries such as Little Richard. Phil Alexander described Turner as the cornerstone of modernday rock n roll, Turner was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on November 5,1931, to Beatrice Cushenberry, a seamstress, and Isaiah Luster Turner, a Baptist minister. The younger of their two children, Turner had a sister named Ethel May. Turner believed that he had named after his father. Turner said that when he was young he witnessed his father beaten. His father lived for three years as an invalid in a tent in the yard before succumbing to his injuries. Writer and blues historian Ted Drozdowski told a different version of the story and his mother then married a man called Philip Reeves. Turner said his stepfather was a violent alcoholic and that they often argued, after one fight Turner knocked out his stepfather with a piece of wood. He then ran away to Memphis, where he lived rough for a few days before returning to his mother and he reconciled with his stepfather years later, buying a house for him in the 1950s around the time Turners mother diedIke Turner – Ike Turner at the Long Beach Blues Festival, 1997