Memphis Celebrates Rock'N'Roll's 50th
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 50Pegging 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 Moore.
"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 says 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 says. "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 quickly by the annual events surrounding Presley's Jan. 8 birthdate. Appropriately, the yearly late summer "Elvis Week" activities, set for Aug. 7-16, will also be incorporated into the 50th anniversary theme.
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 5.
The 50yearsrocknroll.com Web site has been created to serve as the informational center for the campaign. Currently it hosts a history and timeline detailing Memphis' role in music history.