An American institution, Sun Records has a history with many chapters: its Memphis origins with visionary Sam Phillips, the breakthrough recordings of Elvis Presley, and the studio's immense influence on the sound of popular music. But behind the company's chart toppers and legendary musicians there exists another story, told by Barbara Barnes Sims. In the male-dominated workforce of the 1950s, 24-year-old Sims found herself thriving in the demanding roles of publicist and sales promotion coordinator at Sun Records. Sims's job placed her in the studio with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich, Carl Perkins, and other Sun entertainers, as well as the unforgettable Phillips, whose work made the music that defined an era. Her disarming narrative ranges from descriptions of a disgraced Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable impact and tragic fall of DJ Daddy-O Dewey to the frenzied Memphis homecoming of Elvis after his military service. Collectively, these vignettes offer a rare and intimate look at the people, the city, and the studio that permanently shifted the trajectory of rock 'n' roll.
The book is published by Louisiana State University Press
"Sims's book catches the unique Sun milieu of hustling bohemians, purely Memphis-style, in their missions to make money, change the world, and get to work the next day with a clear head. It's the Sam Phillips legend as everyday life..." (Greil Marcus, author of The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs)
"A fascinating addendum to the story of one of the greatest record labels of all time and a snapshot of the record business during one of the most exciting eras in American music." (Memphis Commercial-Appeal)
"Offers a rare opportunity to experience exactly what it was like inside that dingy, unpretentious little office/studio where colorful, larger-than-life personalities helped lay the foundation of an exhilarating, burgeoning new genre." (Pop Culture Classics)
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good story but boring style
- bec "I review books and audiobooks, mostly mystery, police procedurals, That's about it!"
Geat story of early rock and roll
I'm from the south (North Carolina) and around the same age as the author, Barbara Barnes, and I loved her story. Hearing about the antics of these musicians that I listened to via their records made me feel like I was there. Jerry Lee Lewis was even crazier than I thought he was. The part where he blindsided everyone at Sun Records when he married his cousin was priceless. I had no idea that the English press reported the story before the people at Sun knew what he had done. Johnny Cash came across as an interesting person. Of course, listening to what it was like working for Sam Phillips was fun. I was impressed by how well Barbara handled duties for Sam like writing the liner notes for albums and having to 'sell' records to various disc jockeys around the country. I'm not sure I could have handled the pressure or the egos.
Lee Ann Howlett did a great job telling Barbara's story. She has just enough of a southern accent to make her seem like the author was looking back and relating the events to you. She was also good when narrating the humorous parts and there were plenty of them.