The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 18
R&B inspiration for Elvis
Once upon a time, there was a little recording studio and record label in Memphis, TN, called Sun records. In their early days they recorded some great local Rhythm & Blues singers and the owner of the label, Sam Phillips, dreamed of great fame and millions of dollars if he could sell that wonderful music to the big audience of white youngsters. He was convinced that he could achieve that if he found a white guy who could do that music with that typical African-American feeling. And in 1954, that man came walking into the studio, a local truck driver who was born in Mississippi and who loved Rhythm & Blues.
His name was Elvis Presley and he'd been rejected for singing in bands several times. His first session for Sun records was dramatically bad, and they were about to call it quit when he took his guitar and began to play an old blues, Arthur Crudup's That's All Right. The bass player joined in and Sam Phillips immediately knew that he'd found what he'd been looking for.
Elvis kept recording in that same idiom, mostly covering existing Rhythm & Blues songs and today's playlist contains some of these songs that made the man who'd later be called the King of Rock 'n Roll.
Sam Phillips soon lost him to RCA, but he deserves the credit for understanding that Rhythm & Blues had the potential to start a national craze among the white audience, and that, in segregated America, it only needed a white guy to bring it to them. With that understanding the foundation of Rock 'n Roll was laid.