The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has opened its latest exhibit, Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips, and several key figures in the history of rockabilly music will gather Saturday (Aug. 29) to discuss the visionary producer’s legacy.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 200, Phillips is acknowledged as one of the most innovative and inspiring figures in the history of American music.
The founder of Sun Records in Memphis, Phillips oversaw recording sessions and introduced the world to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner and many more. Phillips died in 2003.
Among the memorabilia on display at the exhibit include the radio mixing console and tape recorder Phillips used to create the classic “slapback” echo used on Presley’s Sun recordings, a stage costume worn by Johnny Cash (with embroidered western tie and silver treble clef pin with rhinestones) and the Kay K-161 Thin Twin electric guitar used by Howlin’ Wolf.
Saturday’s panel discussion, titled “Go, Cat, Go: Sam Phillips in the Studio,” will feature rockabilly legend Sonny Burgess, drummer J.M. Van Eaton (who played on Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire” and Billy Lee Riley’s “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll,” drummer W.S. “Fluke” Holland (who played on Carl Perkins’s “Blue Suede Shoes” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”) and Phillips’ son Jerry. The session will be moderated by historian Peter Guralnick, who co-curated the exhibit and is the author of the forthcoming biography, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll.
The panel discussion will be streamed live Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on the museum’s website. The exhibit is scheduled to run through June 12, 2016.