Sun Records Book Arrives From Author Peter Guralnick

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Author Peter Guralnick, who knows a thing or two about the subject, has collaborated on a new book, The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Illustrated Story of Sun Records and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World. The title, written with Sun Records’ expert, Colin Escott, arrived Nov. 22, 2022, via publisher Weldon Owen. Guralnick is the best-selling author of the two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. Escott is considered the foremost authority on the Sun label.

[The book falls among a wide slate of music releases celebrating Sun’s 70th Anniversary. To honor its hallowed history, Sun has issued mint reissues of titles including a compilation album curated by Chris Isaak, and remastered albums by Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jeannie C. Riley. The label will be putting out other beloved records by The Dixie Cups, Linda Martell, Bettye LaVette, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Carl Perkins, and others.]

From the publisher’s announcement: In Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s, there was hard-edged blues playing on Beale Street, and hillbilly boogie on the outskirts of town. But at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio on Union Avenue, there was something different going on – a whole lotta shakin’, rockin’, and rollin’. This is where rock ’n’ roll was born.

Sun Records launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. The label that brought the world, “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Breathless,” “I Walk the Line,” “Mystery Train,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”

From ‘The Illustrated Story of Sun Records and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World’ via Weldon Owen

The book is described as the official history of this legendary label, and looks at its story in a unique way: through the lens of 70 of its most iconic recordings. From the early days with primal blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King to long nights in the studio with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, you will see how the label was shaped and how it redefined American music. Accompanying the recordings is the label’s origin story and a look at the mission of the label today, as well as “Sun Spot” sidebars—a fascinating dive into subjects such as how the iconic logo was created, the legendary Million Dollar Quartet sessions, and how the song “Harper Valley, PTA” funded the purchase of the label.

The book features hundreds of rare images from the Sun archives as well as a foreword by music legend Jerry Lee Lewis.

From ‘The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Illustrated Story of Sun Records and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World’ via Weldon Owen

Guralnick also wrote the biography of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll. He is a Grammy award winner and an inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame. Escott wrote the Sun Records history in 1975 and has revised and expanded it several times since. He has published several other volumes on the early days of country music, has won a Grammy for his work on Mercury Records’ The Complete Hank Williams, and in 2010 received a Tony nomination for Million Dollar Quartet.

Related: Our review of Guralnick’s biography of Sam Phillips

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  1. ToddP
    #1 ToddP 13 October, 2022, 23:53

    As a highly influenced and thoroughly read fan of the history of Sun Studio, Sam Phillips, the artists, and the music that all made a special and everlasting staple in the music industry, worldwide, I am delighted to hear of this new publishing and can’t wait to get a copy to read and put on my shelf next to my collection of books that have been written about everything Sun Studio.

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  2. 122intheshade
    #2 122intheshade 24 November, 2022, 00:08

    The Sam Phillips bio was terrific. Had no idea he was in on the ground floor of “Holiday Inn”. Can’t wait to read the Sun book.

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