Elvis Presley didn't just walk into Sun Studio fresh off the streets of Memphis and instantly give birth to rock-and-roll. It was his fifth visit to Sam Phillips' Union Avenue recording service, and his first two attempts of the night were both ballads. Phillips felt the boy's emotion, but didn't hear a hit, and he was ready to end the session when Presley relaxed and started goofing off with his guitar, jumping around and playing Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right." The recording equipment was turned back on, and two days later WHBQ DJ Dewey Phillips played the song on the radio. History. So this isn't just Independence Day weekend, it's Rock Week, when the whole world turns toward Memphis to salute the 60th anniversary of Elvis' first full recording session, and all the magic that happens in the meantime, when you're just goofing off.
Anniversary festivities kick off Friday, July 4th, at 9:45 p.m., with a very Elvis installment of the Mud Island River Park's Fireworks Spectacular. Sun Studio hosts the official grand opening of its newly installed "60 Years" exhibit Saturday, July 5th, at noon with a ceremony and cake-cutting event. Visitors to Graceland on July 5th will receive a free limited-edition poster featuring a young Elvis Presley with his 1956 Gibson J200 guitar. Graceland is also offering a special VIP tour package exploring Elvis' transformation from truck driver to megastar.
Later that evening, Elvis bassist Bill Black will be honored at a Levitt Shell concert and with a Brass Note to be placed on the Beale Street Walk of Fame. The free concert showcases contemporary Memphis artists paying homage to Elvis, Booker T. & the MG's, Sam & Dave, Al Green, the Staples Singers, and more.
If that's not enough Elvis for you, there are a variety of special tours, and you can always drop in on the Rock 'n' Soul Museum's "60 Years of Rock," an ongoing timeline exhibit, tracing the history of rock-and-roll beginning, of course, with Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black's recording of "That's All Right."