James and Bruce visit Sun Studios, a walk along Union Avenue from downtown Memphis. If you are a fan of music history, I cannot recommend this highly enough. It borders on a religious experience. The only tip I have is go early in the morning, before the coach parties arrive, and book your tour for maybe forty minutes after your arrival time, rather than the next one. This is because when the tour before your slot disappears, you almost have the place to yourself for a while.

Where you are sitting isn't Sun Studio itself, of course, as that is the building next door, the old Memphis Recording Service run by Sam Phillips, and some of blues greats recorded there before Elvis and Johnny Cash walked through the door. The place where you will be sitting before you go on the tour is just as special, of course, as back in the fifties it was a diner, Taylor's, and it is where Elvis signed his first contract, where Marshall Grant used to go for his lunch, and where Johnny, Luther and Marshall would go to relax during and after recording sessions. You can enjoy a coffee and take in the history. And buy stuff, of course.

The advantage of going early is also that once you have finished, you can walk down Beale Street, where there are bars. A lot of bars.


Sun Studio

Memphis Recording Service

Memphis Recording Service

Wall in Taylor's diner

Behind the counter in Taylor's diner

Sun Studio

Sun Studio entrance (Taylor's diner)

Taylor's diner, now the gift shop

What was once Taylor's diner, but is now the Sun Studio entry point and gift shop

Coffee machine

Taylor's diner

Reception of Sun Studio

The reception at Sun Studio, where Johnny and Elvis and the rest will have arrived

Sun Recording Studio

The recording studio

Sun Studio

The recording studio, and where Elvis pondered

The microphone used by them all

The original microphone used by all the greats. Into that microphone, history was made

Sun Studio

The recording studio

Sam Phillips's recording booth

Sam Phillips's recording booth. He pressed record in there when Elvis was messing around and changed musical history

Where Elvis signed his contract

The table in Taylor's diner where Elvis signed his first contract

Where Jerry Lee Lewis pounded his heavy

The piano pounded by the heavy left hand of Jerry Lee Lewis

View back down Union Avenue

The view Johnny would have had when leaving the recording studio

Memphis Recording Service

Memphis Recording Service from Taylor's diner