Blue Suede Connection

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Elvis and The Blue Moon Boys

"Call the kid, ask him to come over to your house and see what you think," Sam Phillips asked of Scotty Moore, Sun Studio's session guitarist.

It had been almost a year since Elvis had stepped in to The Memphis Recording Service (Sun Studios) to make an acetate for Glady, his mother, on her birthday. He had left Marion Keisker, Sam's secretary, his phone number but nobody had called. Sam had all but forgotten about him, until months later when Marion reminded him of the "nice young man."

Sam had been looking for someone different and "the kid was different," Marion reminded him, so Scotty was sent to see if "the boy" could sing.

"I asked Bill (Black) to drop by (at my home). And Elvis was singing Eddie Arnold, Hank Snow, just a little bit of everything,"Scotty remembers, "It was obvious he had a good voice, good range, so I called Sam, and said with the right song, he might be a fit."

Staying on key was one thing, but what did Elvis sound like on tape? There was only one way to find out, and soon Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys stood in the sacred halls of Sun Studio for the very first time--Elvis at 19, a strapping (Scotty) Moore of 23, and a mature 30 year old Bill Black; the mix that would ignite Rock And Roll.

It wasn't an easy session, nobody knew what they were looking for, only that Sam believed he would know "it" when he heard it. "For now, I just wanted to get his voice on tape, so I could hear what he sounded like with the band." Said Sam.

For five hours, Scotty and Bill accompanied Elvis as he sang slow ballads and Sam mostly sat in the control room, listening. Nothing. It was getting late. Bill Black showed his readiness to leave by laying out on his bass, which was his way. The night was about over, Scotty remembers, when "Elvis grabbed his guitar and just started beating and flailing 'That's Alright'." Sam flew out of the studio--that's it!

Creating art is often a personal, singular moment, but for something as grande as crafting musical history, it needs a storm of creativity, a group of talented men, all at different stages of life and with complimenting talents. Sam was originally born and raised in Alabama, married, and with music in his bones, had already served as the on-air talent at Memphis' famed WREC for 10 years before Sun Studio's. Scotty and Bill, natives to Memphis, had been working together for some time before Elvis came into their lives. Bill, the more mature of the two, he'd been working night clubs, playing acoustic guitar, since he was 16. And Elvis, he was the spark; the young man with a dream. And like Elvis said, "Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine."

And when the engine that was "The Blue Moon Boys" geared up, adding DJ Fontana (drums) to their sound, they blasted into outer space.

Ready. Set. Go. The boys were in for one hell-of-a ride!

The universe shall be forever thankful.
Patricia (TL) Garber

PS: This week on Blue Suede Connection, buckle up, get your foot off the breaks, and take the fabulous journey with us as we explore how it all started, through music and interviews. Don't miss the show, find the station nearest you on our "Where to Listen" tab. Trust us, you'll be sorry you missed this one friends. It's the kind of history you just cannot make up.   

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