4. December 2013 By Walter Price 0

Million Dollar Quartet 1956

From Left: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins,
Elvis & Johnny Cash

On this day back in 1956 a grand cast of rockabilly hep cats assembled at Sun Studios and one of the most interesting of jam sessions broke out. Carl Perkins, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis & Johnny Cash. What started off as a photo-op turned into one of the coolest moments in music history!

Soon to be known as The Million Dollar Quartet, the recorded impromptu musical showcase centered around Elvis Presley. And rightly so, he was Sam Phillip’s newest golden ticket, shining star and current center of Sun Records’ roster. 

I think history has gone on to prove that the individual talent in the room this day had everlasting effects on music that are still evident in the raw rock n’ roll sounds of true rock & country purest of today. 

Some say 50+ songs had been recorded that Tuesday in Memphis. Not all fully or correctly versed but sounds of the coolest guys in music letting their hair down and cutting loose. A wide variety from gospel, country, pop and Christmas classics made their way to the tapes. There is also the between tunes banter among the studio inhabitants that is fascinating to hear as well. Interesting, considering the talent involved, is that these tapes wouldn’t be heard by the public until 1981 with the 17 track The Million Dollar Quartet and then again in 1990 with a  fuller track list in Elvis Presley – Million Dollar Quartet.

I won’t get into all hoopla regarding who came in and left and who played which parts on the sessions. It is a great story for you to look up. Maybe a movie could and should be made about this remarking blip in music history. (Wasn’t there a musical already?) You will also find it good time knowledge to learn who else was in the studio that day in ’56. 

Check out Steven Miller’s book The Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee, Carl, Elvis & Johnny. Pretty good look at the history of the players in this moment in music greatness. 

Elvis: Website / Facebook.
Carl Perkins: Biography. / Facebook.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Website / Facebook
Johnny Cash: Website / Facebook.

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