Jay Parker who designed the SUN Logo passes away!

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Last week the designer of iconic Sun Records logo died in Memphis at the age of 87. Jay Parker was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on February 1, 1925. Parker was high school friends with Sam Phillips, and after establishing himself as an art director at the Memphis Engraving Company, he received a visit from Sam asking him to create the image that has been associated with the legendary Sun Records label ever since.

Some of Parker’s other notable works include Alka-Seltzer, Super Bubble Gum, and the tiger-stripe helmet used for the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team.

ABOUT SUN RECORDS

The Sun Sound began when Sam Phillips launched his record company in February of 1952. He named it Sun Records as a sign of his perpetual optimism: a new day and a new beginning. Sam rented a small space at 706 Union Avenue for his own all-purpose studio. The label was launched amid a growing number of independent labels. In a short while Sun gained the reputation throughout Memphis as a label that treated local artists with respect and honesty. Sam provided a non-critical, spontaneous environment that invited creativity and vision.

Sam Phillips

As a businessman, Phillips was patient and willing to listen to almost anyone who came in off the street to record. Memphis was a happy home to a diverse musical scene: gospel, blues, hillbilly, country, boogie, and western swing. Taking advantage of this range of talent, there were no style limitations at the label. In one form or another Sun recorded them all.

Then in 1954 Sam found Elvis Presley, an artist who could perform with the excitement, unpredictability and energy of a blues artist but could reach across regional, musical and racial barriers.

He helped form the beginnings of the Sun Sound by infusing Country music with R&B. Elvis’s bright star attracted even more ground-breaking talent to the Sun galaxy. Listed among his contemporaries and lab mates were Johnny Cash, the inimitable Jerry Lee Lewis, and the “Rockin’ Guitar Man”, Carl Perkins. These four soon became known as the Million Dollar Quartet. Right behind them came Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Bill Justis, Harold Jenkins (a.k.a. Conway Twitty) and other equally memorable musical talents. All eventually sold on Pop, R&B and Country charts and grew to international fame.

Rockabilly became the major evolution in the Sun Sound. Lyrically it was bold; musically it was sparse; but it moved. In the 1950’s Country music rarely used drums that were so vital to jazz, blues, and jump bands. In fact, drums were prohibited on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. However, Rockabilly drums played an essential role in driving teens across the nation to become enamored with the Rockabilly movement and the revolutionary Sun Sound. Once again, Sun was able to break new ground recording music of unparalleled diversity in an incubator of creativity.

Inherent in the music of Sun is a vibrancy that survives to this day. Sincere, passionate music. Music that has stood the test of time. It is music that has reached across race, age and gender boundaries. It reflects the diversity and vision of the talent that recorded on the Sun label, and indeed, American popular culture itself.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET – DEC. 4 1956

Million Dollar Quartet

The Million Dollar Quartet is the name given to recordings made on Tuesday December 4, 1956 in the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The recordings were of an impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. The jam session seems to have happened by pure chance. Perkins, who by this time had already met success with “Blue Suede Shoes,” had come into the studios that day, accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay and by drummer W.S. Holland, their aim being to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, “Matchbox.” Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who wished to try to fatten this sparse rockabilly instrumentation, had brought in his latest acquisition, singer and piano man extraordinaire, Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play the piano on the Perkins session.

Sometime in the early afternoon, Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist himself, but now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans. He was, at the time, the biggest name in show business, having hit the top of the singles charts five times, and topping the album charts twice in the preceding 12 month period. Less than four months earlier, he had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, pulling an unheard-of 83% of the television audience, which was estimated at 55 million, the largest in history, up to that time.
After chatting with Philips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of the Perkins’ session, which he pronounced to be good. Then he went into the studio and some time later the jam session began. Phillips left the tapes running in order to “capture the moment” as a souvenir and for posterity. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had also enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in (Cash noted in his autobiography Cash that it was he who was the first to arrive at Sun Studio that day). As Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano, Elvis and his girlfriend at some point slipped out.
Cash claims in Cash that “no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis”
The following day, an article, written by Memphis newspaperman Bob Johnson about the session, was published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title, “Million Dollar Quartet.” The article contained the now well known photograph of Elvis Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

A BOX OF OLD RECORDS HELD TREASURE – A RARE AND PRICEY GEM

August 24, 2009 | Tags: ,

1record0806-300x210 A St. Paul record dealer scored $10,323 on eBay Wednesday. Not bad for a hissy 7-inch blues record that gets stuck in the middle and cost him less than 25 cents.

“I’m pretty amazed,” said Tim Schloe, 39. “I had no idea what to expect” because the disc — “Greyhound Blues,” a 1953 single by obscure Alabama bluesman D.A. Hunt — is “insanely rare,” as he put it. It was one of the first singles from Sun Records, the historic Memphis label that would soon discover Elvis Presley.

The 45-rpm record surfaced recently as Schloe sorted through boxes of more than 10,000 discs he bought two years ago from a Texas collector’s estate.

“A 45 that’s bid up to more than $10,000 is in a very select group of rare vinyl,” said Joyce Greenholdt of Goldmine, the discophiles’ bible. The highest-known price for a Sun 45 was $17,820 for a mint-condition copy of Presley’s first single, “That’s Alright, Mama.” A West Coast blues collector outbid 33 others — including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — for the Hunt disc, according to Schloe. Once he sends it off (by registered mail), he plans to dig through that Texas collection for another gem — even if it gets stuck in the middle.

 

Some of Suns legends!

 

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