There’s no denying it — music defines Memphis. Roam the internet for stories about the nation’s top music cities, and Memphis always seems to make the list. That’s because we’re known as the home of blues, soul, rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll.

And don’t ignore the fact that Memphis stays fresh by being a hub of musical experimentation, producing hybrids such as surf rock with a Memphis twang.

Plus, the Memphis music producer Sam Phillips recorded what is often cited as the first rock ’n’ roll song, “Rocket 88,” at his Sun Records studio when it opened in 1952. Ike Turner wrote the song about a powerful auto, and his band member Jackie Brenston sang it.

Music tourism

Memphis serves up a banquet of musical history and styles. It’s a major part of our tourism appeal as demonstrated at the Memphis Travel website, which tops its “what to do” page with the following iconic music hot spots:

  • Graceland, 3765 Elvis Presley Blvd.
  • Sun Studio, 706 Union Ave.
  • STAX Museum of American Soul Music, 926 East McLemore Ave.
  • Memphis Music Hall of Fame, 126 South Second St.
  • Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum, 191 Beale St.
  • Blues Hall of Fame, 421 South Maine St.
  • Beale Street, which has so many music clubs that it has its own app

Impact of Graceland

Memphis Magazine contributor Chris Davis identifies 1982 as the year that forward-thinking entrepreneurs began shaping our city’s music history as a tourist attraction. In a December 2015 article, Davis noted the tourism renaissance as beginning “when Graceland first opened its doors to the public.”

According to Davis’ article,  Beale Street had lots of boarded-up buildings the year Graceland opened. Sun Records (eventually renamed Sun Studio), where stars like Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison recorded, was just a quick flash outside the window on Gray Line Tours in the early 1980s, according to Davis’ article.

STAX Museum of American Soul Music is housed in the old STAX Records studio where stars like Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding (backed by the Bar-Kays), Sam and Dave, and the Staple Singers all recorded.

Nowadays, the city’s musical landmarks hum with visitors. Ted Evanoff of the Commercial Appeal notes that the neon 1950s appeal of Beale Street was Tennessee’s top tourist stop as of 2016 when it attracted six million visitors.

 

Additional Reading:

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/ike-turner/rocket-88

https://www.memphistravel.com/what-do

https://memphismagazine.com/culture/music-tourism-is-transforming-memphis/

https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/money/columnists/ted-evanoff/2017/06/24/ted-evanoff-if-elvis-fading-you-wouldnt-know-numbers/413344001/

https://www.staxrecords.com/pages/artists

 

Looking for more stories on what makes Memphis great?

Follow our Instagram page below!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by We Are Memphis Music (@wearememphismusic) on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Be Interested In…

 

Stax Academy Alumni

It’s no secret that Memphis has given the world some of its more iconic hits and musicians. Whether it’s the blues, R&B, rap, rock-and-roll, or that signature soulful sound, Memphis is a home where melodies are made. A big part of that legacy is Stax Records, where big names such […]

 

This is Memphis Soul and R&B: curated by Tonya Dyson

Music has always been a huge part of my life from the time I was born. Growing up on steady portions of gospel from the church and soul music from the vinyl records that were found in my home, I developed a love that eventually led me to move to Memphis. I was born and […]

 

5 Questions with Marco Pavé

Marco Pavé is a native Memphian, gifted storyteller, and standout musician. Since 2012 when he released his first series of freestyle rap videos, he’s been performing and creating within the local hip hop scene and sharing his passion for Memphis, Black folks, and all things music. […]