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A biography of sam phillips an american music producer

Despite the often-overt eroticism of rock and roll, which caused consternation in the culturally conservative fifties and contributed to the erosion of sexual mores in the decades that followed, the music exerted far-reaching influence on the integration of African Americans into the artistic, economic, and cultural mainstream of the United States.

Significantly, Phillips was the first non-performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural elections in 1986. The son of poor tenant farmers, Phillips worked every day with black field laborers as a child and was deeply impressed with the pitch and rhythm of the singing. Like Handy before him, Phillips was drawn to the musical magnet of Memphis and the legendary Beale Street, where itinerant blues musicians from throughout the South came to live out their dreams.

Phillips first arrived on Beale Street in 1939, on a trip to Dallas, but returned to Alabama to work as a radio announcer and engineer in Decatur, throughout the forties. Although Memphis was famed for its music, surprisingly there was no recording studio when Phillips arrived.

I wanted to record black people, those folks who never had the opportunity to record. My unconscious mind was just saying I should do it.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

During these first years, Phillips recorded masters by little-known blues artists such as B. Sun Records In 1952, frustrated with his leasing arrangement, Phillips launched his own label, calling it Sun Records. In the summer of 1953, a shy young singer arrived at Sun Studio with the stated purpose of recording a couple of sentimental songs for his mother.

Phillips made a note of the eighteen-year-old with the strange name and appearance, Elvis Presley. A year later, on July 5, 1954, Phillips called Presley back and arranged for a session with guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black. This anonymous moment with the microphone turned off became an iconic event in American musical history, as Phillips flipped on the microphone and launched a career that would come to transform the American musical landscape.

Samuel Cornelius Phillips

In 1954 and 1955, Presley made a series of now-classic recordings for Sun Records, a spontaneous synthesis of blues, country, gospel, and pop that were mostly covers of recent country and rhythm and blues recordings.

Phillips recorded looking for a feel, not technical perfection. He told Presley that the worst thing he could go for was perfection. This meant that it was not technically perfect, but perfectly conveyed the feeling and emotion of the song to the listener and gave the song a living personality, partially due to it being technically imperfect. Most recordings at the time gave substantially more volume to the vocals.

Phillips pulled back the Elvis vocals, blending it more with the instrumental performances. Phillips also used tape delay to get an echo into the Elvis recordings by running the tape through a second recorder head. RCA, not knowing the method that Phillips had used was unable to recreate the Elvis echo when recording "Heartbreak Hotel. Like Presley, each came from impoverished background and drew on rich veins of vernacular music, fashioned into a recognizable idiom, termed rockabillyby the sound engineer, Sam Phillips.

Through the sale of Presley's contract, he was able to boost the distribution of Perkins' song, "Blue Suede Shoes," and it became Sun Records' first national hit, later recorded twice by Presley and the Beatlesand sometimes called "the national anthem of rock and roll.

Sam Phillips

Each of the women who auditioned for the station assumed they were applying for a single female announcer position like other stations at that time. Only before the first broadcast did they learn that almost every position at the station was held by a woman. Broadcasting out of a few pastel, beauty salon-like rooms known as the "doll's den" at a Memphis Holiday Inn, the "jockettes" played the records, managed the station, and reported the news.

Few thought the station would survive, but it broadcast for eleven years, going off the air in 1966. I had always wanted a radio station, but Memphis already had nine. I had to do something different. An all-girl crew, and pleasant, light music, was the answer. He was one of the first investors in Holiday Inn, a new motel chain that was about to go national. He would also create two different subsidiary recording labels—Phillips International and Holiday Inn Records.

Neither would match the success or influence of Sun, which Phillips ultimately sold to Shelby Singleton in the 1960s. Phillips died of respiratory failure at St.

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He is interred in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis. Legacy Sam Phillips is best remembered for his role in launching the rock and roll revolution and the careers of some of its most talented performers, preeminently Elvis Presley.

Rock and roll had enormous popular appeal among young people and became a global phenomenon. Borrowing heavily from the blues, the music was energetic and celebratory rather than brooding, but also adopted much of the erotic subtext of the blues.

Packaged and marketed for affluent young whites, rock and roll engendered deep social divisions, as traditional views of sexuality grounded in religious faith were challenged by powerful commercial forces.

Another, more important legacy of Sam Phillips was his formative role in breaking down racial barriers and culturally enfranchising American blacks. They may be illiterate.

They can't write a book about it. But they can make a song, and in three verses you'll hear the greatest damn story you'll ever hear in your life. In 1987, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 1991.