Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee bills itself as “The Birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll,” and it’s hard to argue with that label. The small studio is the place where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and other musicians recorded in the 1950s, creating some of the most legendary songs in popular music history.
I visited Sun Studio not long ago and came away impressed with the display of historic artifacts. Here’s my Sun Studio review.
Sun Studio Review: History of Sun Studio
Sun Records owner Sam Phillips opened Sun Studio in 1950 and big names like B.B. King and Ike Turner recorded there not long after. In 1953, Elvis Presley dropped by and began recording songs.
Later, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis showed up in the studio at the same time. The photo taken of the four of them in Sun Studio has become one of the most iconic photos in rock ‘n roll history.
Sun Studio Review: Artifacts on display
Sun Studio tours cost only $12 for adults. The structure Sun Studio is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and with good reason. The tour takes visitors through a large room full of photographs, gold records, and other pieces of memorabilia from the 1950s and ’60s.
The tour then moves into the actual recording studio where many of the greatest rock songs were recorded. You can tell the studio hasn’t changed much over the years – the walls are old and full of character.
Standing in the very spot where so much history took place is overwhelming. Most impressively, visitors are allowed to pose with a microphone from the ’50s used by so many legendary artists. Personal touches like this make the Sun Studio tour a worthwhile experience.
Sun Studio Review: Surprises
The day I visited Sun Studio, punk legend Elvis Costello happened to be in attendance, filming a documentary with blues legend Hubert Sumlin. They were in the studio as our tour group passed through and they chatted with us for a few minutes.
Though most Sun Studio tours do not include special moments like this, the fact that famous musicians drop by all the time is a testament to the history and importance of the place. Musicians still record there and bands regularly perform Internet-only concerts there.
My bottom-line Sun Studio review: Anyone interested in rock ‘n roll or popular American music should make a visit there. I’ve been to similar museums that weren’t worth the money (Hello, Motown Museum!), but Sun Studio is well worth the price of admission.
Sun Studio Review: Sources