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Joie de Vivre

Sun Records

We did the tour of Sun Records. A lot of cool stuff happened there, and this filled in a chunk of my Elvis education. Here’s what I particularly enjoyed.

Ludwig drums

The house drumset was donated by U2’s drummer after they recorded there. Sun is still a functioning studio, although there is a bigger, more modern facility a few streets away.

Rocket “88” was a single by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. The story goes that his amplifier fell off the back of his truck, and the cone was damaged. Sam Philips stuffed some newspaper around the damaged cone, and they recorded. In that moment, amplified distortion and rock & roll were invented.

Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker persuaded Sam Philips and Sun to sell their contract to RCA records for around $35k (something like $350,000 in today’s money, or so the guide said). While, in hindsight, that seemed like a mistake, given how big Elvis got, it set Sun Records up nicely, and they went on to do other great things.