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Phillips, Sam (5th January 1923-30th July 2003)

He was born Samuel Cornelius Phillips in Florence, Alabama and was a record producer known for his involvement in the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s.

On 3rd January 1950 he opened the Memphis Recording Service which served as the studios for Sun Records as well as recording events such as weddings and funerals and selling records.  He is credited, by some, as recording the first rock and roll record in 1951, “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, which was led by Ike Turner.

B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf made their first recordings at his studios and then in the same period he discovered Elvis Presley who recorded his version of “That’s All Right Mama”.

In 1955 he launched the WHER radio station where nearly every position was held by a woman.

In 1986 he was one of the first to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his contribution has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  In 1987 he was inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame and in 1991 he received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements.  In 1998 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and in 2001, the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He died of respiratory failure on 30th July 2003 at St. Francis Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee.  He was 80 years old.   It was the day before Sun Studios was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Amazing Rhythm Aces Recordings
Mystery Train (Sam Phillips/Herman Parker)