Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll

Peter Guralnick. Little, Brown, $32 (752p) ISBN 978-0-3160-4274-1
Acclaimed music historian Guralnick has written landmark accounts of Elvis (Last Train to Memphis), Sam Cooke (Dream Boogie), and the history of American roots music (Lost Highway), and he now turns his considerable skills to the life of Sun Records producer Sam Phillips in this delightful and comprehensive volume. While he builds the story on the skeleton of the facts of Phillips’s life—his birth outside of Florence, Ala.; his production of the jam session with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley, later released as the Million Dollar Quartet tapes; and his tireless work ethic—Guralnick portrays a man deeply passionate about giving black musicians opportunities to share their music and voices in a South that seldom allowed them to do so. Drawing on extensive interviews from his 25-year friendship with Phillips, as well as on interviews with many of the musicians Phillips produced (Howlin’ Wolf and Ike Turner among others), Guralnick energetically tells the must-read tale of a Southern boy intent on enacting his vision of freedom and justice through music. Phillips’s message from the start was “the inherent nobility not so much of man as of freedom, and the implied responsibility... for each of us to be as different as our individuated natures allowed us to be”; as Guralnick points out, Phillips succeeded in giving each of his musicians the freedom to express themselves fully on records that changed the musical landscape forever. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/12/2015
Release date: 11/10/2015
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-0855-5
Paperback - 800 pages - 978-0-316-04273-4
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