On Dec. 4th, 1956 history was made in Memphis, TN. when a group of young performers got together in an impromptu recording session at Sam Phillips’ Sun Recording Studio. It was the dawning of the age of Rock and Roll as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash all showed up at about the same time to begin their recording careers in Memphis.
Carl Perkins was doing a recording session with his brothers (The Perkins Brothers). They brought in a young piano player from Louisiana they had recently discovered to add some piano to the mix by the name of Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash was in town and decided to stop by to listen to the session. In walked Elvis Presley, recently signed by RCA records, but a former Sam Phillips protégé.
After the original recording session ended, these four young stars hung out for six hours just to jam around, singing their hearts out. The recording engineer, Cowboy Jack Clements, decided to roll some tape and caught this moment forever. This moment in time has come to be called “The Million Dollar Quartet” and my show delves into the music that they shared on this day, which was largely gospel and country music, the music they grew up on. I then go through a number of the songs made famous by each artist, starting with Elvis (Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, etc.), Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes, etc), Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire, etc.) and finally Johnny Cash (I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, etc.). I end the show with an original composition entitled “Rock-n-Roll, which pretty much sums up the performance.
This remarkable group of musicians, and their mentor Sam Phillips, have been commemorated in a Broadway musical production entitled “The Million Dollar Quartet” which has garnered numerous Tony Awards.