On July 19, 1954, Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., released a vinyl recording of a 19-year-old truck driver from Tupelo, Miss., singing a cover of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right.”
His name was Elvis Presley, and he would go on to become known worldwide as “The King of Rock&Roll.”
Recorded a few months prior at the one-room Sun Studio off Union Ave. in Memphis, Sun Records released a two-sided vinyl record of Presley in July 1954 featuring “That’s All Right” on the A side and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the B side.
The recording of Crudup’s tune is notable for two reasons: Presley did it nearly unrehearsed and it is regarded by many as the true genesis of Rock&Roll in the U.S.
The record company’s manager, Sam Phillips–the man accredited with starting the rockabilly genre–thought Presley was a unique talent.
The young talent showed up at Sun on a Summer evening in 1953 to make a recording for his mother as a present for her birthday that year. He paid just under $4 and sang “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.”
Phillips immediately thought Presley had something special and sent two of his studio musicians–guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black–to meet with Presley and report back. After playing with Presley and feeling him out, the pair were rather unimpressed with everything but the young man’s voice, which is what struck Phillips in the first place.
The studio manager brought Presley back in to do a few songs, but none of them really drew his attention. He heard Presley messing around with “That’s All Right” on the guitar, but in a unique, paced up fashion. Immediately, Phillips requested that Presley, Moore and Black record the song.
Phillips printed copies of the recordings, distributed them to local radio stations and got the 19-year-old Mississippi native his first media attention. Presley sold nearly 20,000 copies of his first record and gained notoriety for both his voice and his stage presences, which included dancing and gyrating his hips to the hits of the drummer’s snare.
Prelsey would go on to pave the way for artists Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. His home in Memphis, located on Elvis Presley Blvd., is known as Graceland and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world every year.
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