Sun Records

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For the jazz rock label established by Frank Wright, see Sun Records (jazz). For all other Sun Records, see Sun Records (other companies).
Sun Records
Parent company Sun Entertainment Corp.
Founded 1952
Founder Sam Phillips
Genre Various; general trends are Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Country, Rhythm & Blues, Blues
Country of origin US
Location (historic) 706 Union Ave. Memphis, Tennessee 38103
(current) 3106 Belmont Blvd. Nashville, Tennessee 37212
Official website

Sun Records, a division of Sun Entertainment Corp, is an American independent record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, which began operations on March 27, 1952.[1]

Founding and history[edit]

Founded in 1952 by Sam Phillips, who also founded the recording studio Sun Studio at the same time, Sun Records discovered and first recorded such influential musicians as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Presley's recording contract was eventually sold to RCA Victor Records for $35,000 in 1955 to relieve the financial difficulties that Sun was going through. Prior to those records, Sun Records had concentrated on mainly recording African-American musicians, because Phillips loved rhythm and blues and wanted to bring black music to a white audience. It was Sun record producer and engineer, Jack Clement, who discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis, while owner Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Florida. The original Sun Records logo was designed by John Gale Parker, Jr., a resident of Memphis and high school classmate of Phillips.

Sun label

Sun was founded with the financial aid of Jim Bulliet, one of many record executives for whom label founder Sam Phillips had scouted artists before 1952.[2]

Some of the recording artists at Sun were Johnny Cash, Roscoe Gordon, Rufus Thomas, who recorded solo and with his daughter Carla Thomas, Little Milton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Tex Weiss, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Bill Justis, and Conway Twitty (who at that time recorded under his real name of Harold Jenkins). In the Lovin' Spoonful song "Nashville Cats", John Sebastian erroneously referred to "Yellow Sun Records from Nashville".

There were also only sixteen female recording artists that had records released on the Sun and Phillips international label. These include Barbara Pittman and The Miller Sisters.[3]

In 1969, Mercury Records label producer Shelby Singleton purchased the Sun label from Phillips. Singleton merged his operations into Sun International Corporation, which re-released and re-packaged compilations of Sun's early artists in the early 1970s. It would later introduce rockabilly tribute singer Jimmy "Orion" Ellis in 1980 as Orion taking on the persona of Elvis Presley.

The company remains in business as Sun Entertainment Corporation, are currently licenses its brand and classic hit recordings (many of which have appeared in CD boxed sets and other compilations) to independent reissue labels. Sun Entertainment also includes SSS International Records, Plantation Records, Amazon Records, Red Bird Records, Blue Cat Records among other labels the company acquired over the years.[4] Its website sells collectible items as well as compact discs bearing the original 1950s Sun logo.

Sun Records is located in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been mainly a re-issue label since the 1970s but signed country musician Julie Roberts to a recording contract in 2013.[5]

The music of many Sun Records musicians helped lay part of the foundation of late 20th century rock and roll and influenced many younger musicians including the Beatles. In 2001, Paul McCartney appeared on a tribute compilation album titled Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy Of Sun Records. The 2010 tribute Million Dollar Quartet is based on the famous photograph of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis grouped round Elvis Presley at the piano, the night when the four joined in an impromptu jam at Sun Record's one-room sound studio, the "Million Dollar Quartet" of 4 December 1956.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Sun Records Collection [Rhino] - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  2. ^ Ward, Ed; Rolling Stone History of Rock Music
  3. ^ Davis, Hank. "Overlooked Sun Records Female Artists Finally Get their Day in the Sun." Goldmine Nov 01 2002: 69. ProQuest. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
  4. ^ "Sun Records Licensing | Sun Record Company". 1956-12-04. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  5. ^ "Julie Roberts First Artist To Sign With Sun Records in 40 years | New Country Music, Listen to Songs & Video". 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 

External links[edit]