It could have been The Million Dollar Quintet
Memphis exudes music history like no other place I’ve visited. It may be known as the birthplace of Rock & Roll but it’s got deep roots in Soul, Gospel and R&B.
Before even checking into my hotel I drove straight to Sun Studio. I was paranoid with the staycation world that the limited Studio tours would be filled. They take 25 people each half hour.
I turned up five minutes late for a group that had already taken off. Mark on the counter admired my t-shirt for The Wire, we bonded, he discounted my ticket and let me catch up.
It’s probably the oddest place to first understand what people mean when they say they felt history – but I felt it in that studio. Standing in the room The Million Dollar Quartet ( Elvis; Johnny Cash; Carl Perkins; Jerry Lee Lewis) recorded in on December 4th, 1956, listening to the original cut, got this cynical Paddy misty eyed. The last time that happened was the end of Spartacus.
Tour participants were allowed take photos holding the Quartets session microphone . It was left by the original owner on condition it could be held by visitors.
Needless to say I spent a small fortune in the excellent gift store. I’ll need a bigger office.
On the road from Knoxville to Memphis I pulled off in Brownsville to visit the Tina Turner Museum. It’s small, housed in the schoolhouse she attended. The movie fan in me was very pleased with Tina’s Thunderdome tunic. Great theme song, lousy film.
The Stax Museum of American Soul is located in the original Stax record studios. Much as I was tempted to skip, I sat through the 18 minute video history and it was an eye opening treat, covering the roots, influences (a little country a little Gospel) and history of Stax.
My favorite exhibit was Isaac Hayes pimped out Cadillac or whatever type of car this is.
I skipped bits. I did take a walk down daytime Beale Street (touristy) and visited The Blues Hall of Fame (too new and plasticy for the Blues). That didn’t stop me from buying things!
Of course not all of the History of Memphis is about song. The Lorraine Hotel is close by my accommodations. It was remarkable how a place I’d never been to before could look so familiar.
Tomorrow – The King.