Places In Blues History

As part of our series on Places In Blues History, here is a page on Sun Records and the Memphis Recording Service established in 1950 by Sam Phillips at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee.

706 Union Avenue is still an operating recording studio and has been designated a U.S. National Historic Site [note: PDF] by the U.S. National Parks Service.

The Memphis Recording Service, Sun Records and Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
The Memphis Recording Service, Sun Records and Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee

Sam Phillips set up the Memphis Recording Service in 1950 in the smaller building on the left of these photos. At that time the building on the right was a coffee shop but it was later acquired by Sun Records. It is now the Sun Records store and museum. Sun Records offers a tour which includes both of these buildings.

The Memphis Recording Service, Sun Records and Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
The Memphis Recording Service, Sun Records and Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee

 

Book cover, Sam Phillips - The Man Who Invented Rock n' Roll, by Peter Guralnick
Book cover, Sam Phillips – The Man Who Invented Rock n’ Roll, by Peter Guralnick

Sam Phillips set up the Memphis Recording Service in 1950. Between 1950 and 1952 he recorded many artists for other record labels. (We have included a list below)

Sam Phillips also discovered and recorded many southern artists but during this period he sold the recordings he made to various record labels, including RPM and Modern in Los Angeles, Chess Records in Chicago, Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi and Duke Records in Texas.

In 1952, Sam Phillips decided to form his own record label rather than simply act as a recording studio for other labels. In 1952 he set up Sun Records. (We have included a list of major Sun Records releases below)

Here are some other sites with more information about the Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records:

 

Memphis Recording Service 1950-1952

After Sam Phillips set up the Memphis Recording Service in 1950, he recorded artists for other record labels. During this period Sam Phillips discovered and recorded many artists but he sold the recordings to other labels. The labels that released these recordings are listed below.

CD cover, Howlin' Wolf, The Complete RPM & Chess Singles As & Bs 1951-62, on Acrobat Records
CD cover, Howlin’ Wolf, The Complete RPM & Chess Singles As & Bs 1951-62, on Acrobat Records

Sam Phillips considered Howlin’ Wolf to be the most important artist he discovered during this period. Howling’ Wolf made his first recordings at Memphis Recording Service in 1951 and the recordings were released on RPM Records and on Chess Records.

One of the largest selling singles recorded at Memphis Recording Service was Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats on, released on Chess Records in April 1951.

Ike Turner was the producer, guitarist and the primary creative force behind Rocket 88 but for marketing reasons, Chess Records decided to release the single under the name of Jackie Brenston, the lead singer in Ike Turner’s band, rather than as an Ike Turner single.

CD cover, Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm - Rhythm Rockin' Blues - on Ace Records
CD cover, Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm – Rhythm Rockin’ Blues – on Ace Records

Here are some notable recordings made by Sam Phillips and the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue and sold to other labels before Sun Records was formed in 1952.

Listed in chronological order of release:

  • I Feel Like A Million by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #20-795A. Released fall 1950.
  • Heartache Baby by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #20-795B. Released fall 1950.
  • Don’t You Want A Man Like Me by B.B. King. RPM Records single #318. Released spring 1951
  • My Baby’s Gone by B.B. King. RPM Records single #318. Released spring 1951
  • Cold Chills by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #813A. Released spring 1951.
  • Boogie In The Park by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #813B. Released spring 1951.
  • Walkin’ Talkin’ Blues by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #822A. Released spring 1951.
  • Street Walkin’ Woman by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #822B. Released spring 1951.
  • Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1458. Released April 1951. (Rehearsed at the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale where Ike Turner was living at the time.)
  • Come Back Where You Belong by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1458. Released April 1951.
  • Heartbroken And Worried by Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm. Chess Records single #1459. Released April 1951.
  • I’m Lonesome Baby by Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm. Chess Records single #1459. Released April 1951.
  • City Women by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #322. Released April 1951
  • Roscoe’s Boogie by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #322. Released April 1951
  • B.B. Blues by B.B. King. RPM Records single #323. Released summer 1951
  • She’s Dynamite by B.B. King. RPM Records single #323. Released summer 1951
  • Ridin’ The Boogie by Lou Sargent and His Orchestra. Chess Records single #1465. Released July 1951.
  • She Really Treats Me Wrong by Lou Sargent and His Orchestra. Chess Records single #1465. Released July 1951.
  • Night Workin’ Blues by Rufus Thomas Jr.. Chess Records single #1466. Released July 1951.
  • Why Did You DeeGee by Rufus Thomas Jr.. Chess Records single #1466. Released July 1951.
  • Juiced by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1472. Released July 1951.
  • Independent Woman by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1472. Released July 1951.
  • Ouch! Pretty Baby by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #324. Released August 1951
  • Swamp Root by Harmonica Frank (Frank Floyd). Chess Records single #1475-A. Released August 1951.
  • Goin’ Away Walking by Harmonica Frank (Frank Floyd). Chess Records single #1475-A. Released August 1951.
  • Swamp Root by Harmonica Frank (Frank Floyd). Chess Records single #1475-A. Released August 1951.
  • Step It Up And Go by Harmonica Frank (Frank Floyd). Chess Records single #1475-A. (Replaced Goin’ Away Walking as the B side)
  • Moanin’ At Midnight by The Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1479. Released August 1951.
  • How Many More Years by The Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1479. Released August 1951.
  • Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse) by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #324. Released August 1951
  • My Real Gone Rocket by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1469. Released October 1951.
  • Tuckered Out by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Chess Records single #1469. Released October 1951.
  • Eyesight To The Blind by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #828. Released fall 1951.
  • Going Down Slow by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #828. Released fall 1951.
  • Gotta Go Baby by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #839. Released fall 1951.
  • Big Legged Woman by Joe Hill Louis. Modern Records single #839. Released fall 1951.
  • Lonesome Bedroom Blues by Willie Nix. RPM Records single #327. Released fall 1951
  • Try Me One More Time by Willie Nix. RPM Records single #327. Released fall 1951
  • She’s A Mean Woman by B.B. King. RPM Records single #330. Released summer 1951
  • Hard Workin’ Woman by B.B. King. RPM Records single #330. Released summer 1951
  • Dime A Dozen by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #336. Released fall 1951
  • A New Remedy For Love by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #336. Released fall 1951
  • Black Gal by Walter “Mumbles” Horton. RPM Records single #338. Released fall 1951
  • Jumpin’ Blues by Walter “Mumbles” Horton. RPM Records single #338. Released fall 1951
  • Booted by Rosco Gordon. Chess Records single #1487. Released December 1951
  • Love You ’til the Day I Die by Rosco Gordon. Chess Records single #1487. Released December 1951
  • Howlin’ Tomcat by Harmonica Frank. Chess Records single #1494. Released January 1952.
  • She’s Done Moved by Harmonica Frank. Chess Records single #1494. Released January 1952.
  • The Wolf Is At Your Door by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1497. Released January 1952.
  • Howlin’ Wolf Boogie by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1497. Released January 1952.
  • Fine Lookin’ Woman by B.B. King. RPM Records single #348. Released March 1952.
  • Country Clown by Doctor Ross and His Jump and Jive Boys. Chess Records single #1504. Released April 1952.
  • Doctor Ross Boogie by Doctor Ross and His Jump and Jive Boys. Chess Records single #1504. Released April 1952.
  • Drop Top by Billy “Red” Love and His Orchestra. Chess Records single #1508. Released April 1952.
  • You’re Gonna Cry by Billy “Red” Love and His Orchestra. Chess Records single #1508. Released April 1952.
  • Gettin’ Old And Grey by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1510. Released April 1952.
  • Mr. Highway Man by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1510. Released April 1952.
  • Saddle My Pony by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1515. Released July 1952.
  • Worried All The Time by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1515. Released July 1952.
  • Juanita by Rufus Thomas Jr. Chess Records single #1517. Released July 1952.
  • Decorate The Counter by Rufus Thomas Jr. Chess Records single #1517. Released July 1952.
  • Truckin’ Little Woman by Willie Nix. Checker Records single #756. Released July 1952.
  • Just One Mistake by Willie Nix. Checker Records single #756. Released July 1952.
  • Two Kind Of Women by Rosco Gordon. RPM Records single #365. Released September 1952
  • Oh, Red by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1528. Released November 1952.
  • My Last Affair by Howlin’ Wolf. Chess Records single #1528. Released November 1952.
  • Too Many Women by Rosco Gordon with the Beale Streeters. Duke Records single #109A. Released November 1952.
  • Wise To You Baby by Rosco Gordon with the Beale Streeters. Duke Records single #109B. Released November 1952.
  • Dorothy Mae by Joe Hill Louis. Checker Records single #763. Released November 1952.
  • When I Am Gone by Joe Hill Louis. Checker Records single #763. Released November 1952.
  • Early In The Morning Baby by Tiny Kennedy. Trumpet Records single #187 . Released December 1952.
  • Strange Kind Of Feeling by Tiny Kennedy. Trumpet Records single #187 . Released December 1952.
  • Pretty Baby Blues by Sherman “Blues” Johnson and His Clouds of Joy. Trumpet Records single #189 . Released December 1952.
  • Sugar Mama by Sherman “Blues” Johnson and His Clouds of Joy. Trumpet Records single #189 . Released December 1952.
  • Island of Heartaches by “Tag” Williams. Trumpet Records single #192 . Released December 1952.
  • Bye And Bye by “Tag” Williams. Trumpet Records single #192 . Released December 1952.
  • Blues Disease by “Tiny” Kennedy. Trumpet Records single #188 . Released April 1953.
  • Don’t Lay This Job On Me by “Tiny” Kennedy. Trumpet Records single #188 . Released April 1953.
  • Hot Fish by Sherman “Blues” Johnson and His Clouds of Joy. Trumpet Records single #190 . Released April 1953.
  • Lost In Korea by Sherman “Blues” Johnson and His Clouds of Joy. Trumpet Records single #190 . Released April 1953.
  • Sweetheart I Wouldn’t Change A Thing by Tag Williams. Trumpet Records single #193 . Released April 1953.
  • One-Sided Love by Tag Williams. Trumpet Records single #193 . Released April 1953.
  • Beale St. Shuffle by Joseph Dobbin and the Four Cruisers. Chess Records single #1547. Released July 1953.
  • On Account Of You by Joseph Dobbin and the Four Cruisers. Chess Records single #1547. Released July 1953.

Sun Records – 1952-1966

CD cover, Sun Records - The Ultimate Blues Collection, a 3 CD set of Sun Records blues recordings.
CD cover, Sun Records – The Ultimate Blues Collection, a 3 CD set of Sun Records blues recordings.

In 1952 Sam Phillips decided to set up his own record label, Sun Records, rather than simply record artists for other labels and let other labels release the records.Here are some notable recordings from Sun Records, in chronological order of release:

  • Drivin’ Slow by Johnny London – Sun Records single #175. Released April 1952
  • We All Gotta Go Sometime by Joe Hill Louis – Sun Records single #178. Released January 1953
  • She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometimes) by Joe Louis Hill – Sun Records single #178. Released January 1953
  • Easy by Jimmy & Walter (Jimmy DeBerry and Big Walter Horton) – Sun Records single #180. Released March 1953
  • Bear Cat by Rufus Thomas – Sun Records single #181. Released March 1953 (Answer song to Hound Dog by Big Mama Thornton. Sun Records was successfully sued by Peacock Records for copyright infringement on this release.)
  • Baby Please by The Prisonaires- Sun Records single #186. Released July 1953
  • Just Walkin’ In The Rain by The Prisonaires- Sun Records single #186. Released July 1953 (Covered by Johnny Ray in 1956)
  • Feelin’ Good by Little Junior’s Blue Flames (Little Junior Parker) – Sun Records single #187. Released July 1953
  • Tiger Man by Rufus Thomas – Sun Records single #188. Released July 1953
  • Mystery Train by Little Junior’s Blue Flames (Little Junior Parker) – Sun Records single #192. Released November 1953 ( Covered by Elvis Presley on Sun Records single #223. Released July 1955)
  • Love My Baby by Little Junior’s Blue Flames (Little Junior Parker) – Sun Records single #192. Released November 1953
  • Lookin’ For My Baby by Little Milton – unreleased version.
  • Rockin’ Chair Daddy by Harmonica Frank (Harmonica Frank Floyd) – Sun Records single #205. Released July 1954
  • Cotton Crop Blues by James Cotton – Sun Records single #206. Released July 1954
  • Hold Me In Your Arms by James Cotton – Sun Records single #206. Released July 1954
  • I’m Gonna Murder My Baby by Pat Hare – unreleased version. ( Note: Pat Hare lived out this song title in real life when he did, in fact, murder his girlfriend in Minneapolis in 1962. Hare then shot and killed a police officer who arrived to investigate the shooting. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.)
  • That’s All Right by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #209. Released July 1954 (Note: the song was originally written by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup)
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #209. Released July 1954 (Note: the song was originally recorded by Bill Monroe)
  • I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #210. Released September 1954
  • Good Rockin’ Tonight by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #210. Released September 1954 (Note: the song was originally written in 1949 by Roy Brown)
  • Drinkin’ Wine Spodee-O-Dee by Malcolm Yelvington and the Star Rhythm Boys – Sun Records single #211. Released November 1954
  • The Boogie Disease by Doctor Ross – Sun Records single #212. Released November 1954
  • Juke Box Boogie by Doctor Ross – Sun Records single #212. Released November 1954
  • Move Baby Move by Billy “The Kid” Emerson – Sun Records single #214. Released January 1955
  • When It Rains It Pours by Billy “The Kid” Emerson – Sun Records single #214. Released January 1955
  • Milkcow Blues Boogie by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #215. Released January 1955
  • You’re A Heartbreaker by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #215. Released January 1955
  • I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #217. Released April 1955
  • Baby, Let’s Play House by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill – Sun Records single #217. Released April 1955
  • I Feel So Worried by Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson – Sun Records single #218. Released April 1955 (Note: Willie Johnson also played with Howlin’ Wolf)
  • So Long Baby Goodbye by Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson – Sun Records single #218. Released April 1955
  • Red Hot by Billy “The Kid” Emerson – Sun Records single #219. Released June 1955 (Covered by Billy Riley on Sun Records single #277 – August 1957)
  • Hey Porter by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #221. Released June 1955
  • Cry! Cry! Cry! by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #221. Released June 1955
  • Mystery Train by Elvis Presley – Sun Records single #223. Released July 1955 (Note: the song was originally recorded for Sun Records by Little Junior Parker and released on Sun Records in November 1953)
  • I Forget To Remember To Forget by Elvis Presley – Sun Records single #223. Released July 1955
  • Ain’t That Right by Eddie Snow- Sun Records single #226. Released August 1955
  • Bring Your Love Back Home by Eddie Snow- Sun Records single #226. Released August 1955
  • So Doggone Lonesome by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #232. Released December 1955
  • Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #232. Released December 1955
  • Blues Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins – Sun Records single #234. Released December 1955
  • Little Fine Healthy Thing by Billy “The Kid” Emerson – Sun Records single #233. Released January 1956
  • Something For Nothing by Billy “The Kid” Emerson – Sun Records single #233. Released January 1956
  • The Chicken (Dance With You) by Rosco Gordon. Flip Records and Sun Records single #237. Released December 1955
  • Love For You Baby by Rosco Gordon. Flip Records and Sun Records single #237. Released December 1955
  • Rock n’ Roll Ruby by Warren Smith – Sun Records single #239. Released April 1956
  • Slow Down by Jack Earls – Sun Records single #240. Released April 1956
  • Get Rhythm by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #241. Released April 1956
  • I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two – Sun Records single #241. Released April 1956
  • Ooby Dooby by Roy Orbison & the Teen Kings – Sun Records single #242. Released May 1956
  • Boppin’ The Blues by Carl Perkins – Sun Records single #243. Released May 1956
  • All Mama’s Children by Carl Perkins – Sun Records single #243. Released May 1956
  • Trouble Bound by Billy Riley – Sun Records single #245. Released May 1956
  • Rock With Me Baby by Billy Riley – Sun Records single #245. Released May 1956
  • Rockin’ With My Baby by Malcolm Yelvington – Sun Records single #246. Released August 1956
  • Red Headed Woman by Sonny Burgess – Sun Records single #247. Released August 1956
  • Dixie Fried by Carl Perkins – Sun Records single #249. Released August 1956
  • Come Little Mama by Ray Harris – Sun Records single #254. Released September 1956
  • Shooby Ooby by Rosco Gordon – Sun Records single #257. Released November 1956
  • Crazy Arms by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #259. Released December 1956
  • Flying Saucers Rock & Roll by Billy Riley & His Little Green Men – Sun Records single #260. Released January 1957
  • Matchbox by Carl Perkins – Sun Records single #261. Released January 1957 (Cover of a Blind Lemon Jefferson song from 1928)
  • Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #267. Released March 1957 (First recorded by Big Maybelle on Okeh Records in 1955)
  • It’ll Be Me by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #267. Released March 1957
  • Love My Baby by Hayden Thompson – recorded at Sun Records. Released in 1957 on Sun Records’ Phillips International label.
  • Rock Boppin’ Baby by Ed Bruce – Sun Records single #276. Released August 1957
  • Red Hot by Billy Riley and His Little Green Men – Sun Records single #277. Released August 1957 (Cover of Sun Records single #219 – also covered by Robert Gordon in 1977)
  • Flat Foot Sam by Tommy Blake and the Rythm Rebels – Sun Records single #278. Released August 1957
  • Raunchy by Bill Justis & His Orchestra – recorded at Sun Records. Released in September 1957 on Sun Records’ Phillips International label.
  • Cat Called Domino by Roy Orbison – recorded by Sun Records in 1957 but unreleased until years later.
  • Great Balls Of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #281. Released November 1957
  • Down The Line by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #288. Released February 1958
  • Breathless by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #288. Released February 1958
  • Hign School Confidential by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #296. Released April 1958
  • Drinkin’ Wine by Gene Simmons- Sun Records single #299. Released April 1958
  • Lewis Boogie by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #301. Released June 1958
  • Lovin’ Up A Storm by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #317. Released February 1959
  • Big Blon’ Baby by Jerry Lee Lewis – Sun Records single #317. Released February 1959
  • One More Time by Billy Riley – Sun Records single #322. Released June 1959
  • Lonely Weekends by Charley Rich – recorded at Sun Records. Released in January 1960 on Sun Records’ Phillips International label as #3552.
  • Cadillac Man by The Jesters – Sun Records single #400. Released February 1966

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