Before we really get going with this blog thing, I should probably warn everybody that I am a huge Elvis fan. Please, please, please tell me that you didn’t just picture a middle aged man in a white jumpsuit who may or may not have (but definitely did) eat one too many peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Well, I guess I can’t be too upset if that’s what you pictured because that’s what I thought before I actually started listening to him. That's when I discovered how much more there is to Elvis and his music than the stereotypical Elvis-like character you see walking around Vegas these days. I’m not quite sure how I evolved into such an Elvis fan, but before I could stop myself I was obsessed. Vinyls. Movies. Sweatshirts. The whole nine yards.
Now, you may be wondering how a man deemed the King of Rock n’ Roll fits into a blog about country music. Well, Elvis was born and raised in the south and started his career singing rockabilly music in a struggling recording studio called Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. In the early 1950s, when Elvis was still a teenager, he went into Sun Records a couple times to make a record for his mama’s birthday. While he was there the owner of the record label, Sam Phillips (who also discovered Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis- yeah, he’s pretty awesome), told Elvis that he was an “interesting” singer and told him that he might call him sometime to make a record.
When Elvis was finally called back a year later (in 1954, I believe) he went in there with his little beaten up guitar and started singing every song he knew for Phillips. Unfortunately, nothing was really working out too well and Phillips thought he had made a mistake in asking Elvis to come in that day. He told Elvis and the two other band members with him (Bill Black and Scotty Moore) to take a break, hoping that they would do better after the break.
Here’s where the story gets good.
Elvis started messing around during the break and began to play an old song from the ‘40s called “That’s All Right”, except he didn’t use the original arrangement of the song. He played it faster and added a lot of energy to the song. As Scotty Moore recounts. “All of a sudden Elvis just started singing this song, jumping and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them”. The song was very different from anything Phillips had heard before and he knew that it was the sound he had been searching for. The sound that he knew had been in Elvis all along; all he needed was the right song to let it rip. Knowing that he had struck gold, Sam Phillips quickly turned on the recorder and told them to repeat what they had just done. That’s the recording you’ll hear now and the recording that jumpstarted the career of arguably the greatest entertainer of all time. And guess what? Because of Elvis’ unique blend of blues, country, and gospel in “That’s All Right”, he was billed as “the freshest, newest voice in country music”.