Memphis Celebrates Rock 'N' Roll's 50th
- Memphis Celebrates Rock 'N' Roll's 50th
By Barry A. Jeckell
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Pegging the day Elvis Presley recorded a
version of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right" -- July 5,
1954 -- at as the date "rock" and "roll" were married, Memphis will
celebrate 2004 as the 50th anniversary.
A year of events in the Tennessee city will mark the occasion that
sparked a revolution from Sam Phillips' tiny Memphis Recording
Service studio and his Sun Records label.
Helping to spearhead the effort will be a group of "musical
ambassadors" appointed by Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton. The
group consists of Memphis native Justin Timberlake, blues legend
B.B. King, soul great Isaac Hayes and former Presley sideman Scotty
"Having played lead guitar for Elvis' 1954 recording of 'That's All
Right,' it's a thrill for me to be a part of this historic
celebration," Moore said in a statement.
"The blues and rock 'n' roll have always been closely connected,
feeding off one another," says King, who has performed on the city's
storied Beale Street for decades. "It's that mixing of styles that
has made Memphis such a fertile ground for musicians."
"The many sounds of Memphis shaped my early musical career and
continue to be an inspiration to this day," adds Timberlake.
For Hayes, the occasion will return him to the place where he began
his career, writing and performing songs such as Sam and
Dave's "Soul Man" at the city's legendary Stax Records
label. "Rock 'n' roll began in Memphis," he said. "And the city
continues to be a focal point of enormous musical creativity today."
The celebration will kick off with "Countdown on Beale" on New
Year's Eve, followed by the annual events surrounding Presley's Jan.
8 birthdate. Appropriately, the yearly late summer "Elvis Week"
activities, set for Aug. 7-16, will be incorporated into the 50th
Along with events still in the planning stages, Memphis hopes to
lead a "global moment in time" where radio stations around the world
will be encouraged to play "That's All Right" simultaneously on July
A Web site (http://www.50yearsrocknroll.com/) has been created as an
information center for the anniversary events.