Sun Studio: Elvis' Original Recording Studio

exterior of Sun Studio

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Sun Studio opened in Memphis on January 3, 1950, by record producer, Sam Phillips. The studio was originally called Memphis Recording Service and shared a building with the Sun Records label. Memphis Recording Service earned the title of "Birthplace of Rock and Roll" in 1951 when Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner recorded Rocket 88, a song with a heavy backbeat and a sound all its own. Rock and roll was born.

Elvis at Sun Studio

In 1953, an 18-year-old Elvis Presley walked into Memphis Recording Service with a cheap guitar and a dream. Nervously, he sang a demo song, failing to impress Sam Phillips. Elvis continued to hang around the studio, however, and in 1954, Sam Phillips asked him to sing again, backed by a band made up of Scotty Moore and Bill Black. After hours of recording and nothing to show for it, Elvis began playing around with an old blues song, "That's Alright, Mama." The rest is, of course, history.

Beyond Rock and Roll

There was more than just rock and roll being recorded at Sun Studio. Big names in country and rockabilly like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Charlie Rich were all signed by Sun Records and recorded their albums there throughout the 1950's. It was then that Sam Phillips opened a larger studio on Madison Avenue.

Today, Sun Studio is back in its original location on Union Avenue. Not only is it a recording studio, but a popular tourist attraction, as well.