From Blues to Blue Suede Shoes: 
Rhythm & Blues, Rockabilly, and Rock & Roll

I Have A Voice Intro

Spirituals

The Blues

Gospel

From Blues to Blue Suede Shoes

Soul

Who Can Sing the Blues

 

 

 

Blues was a source, along with other influences, for much of commercial music, including jazz in the early 1900s, rhythm & blues (R&B) in the 1940s, and then rockabilly and rock & roll in the 1950s. R&B music, blues played up-tempo by black artists with electric guitars, reached a limited market in the 1940s. Sam Phillips, who recorded black R&B artists like Howlin’ Wolf and B. B. King, in the early 1950s claimed: “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.”

Poster for Ike Turner's band and their hit,

Poster for Ike Turner’​s band and their hit, Rocket 88, 1950s

Recorded at Sun Studio in 1951, many consider it to be the first rock & roll record. Courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

 

If there hadn’t been black music there probably would not have been an Elvis, “King of Rock and Roll.” Like many white teenagers, Elvis was influenced by black music with one of the few things whites couldn't segregate – the radio dial. His first Sun Records single in 1954 in Memphis, “That’s Alright,” was an R&B song written and previously recorded by black artist, Arthur Crudup. This was the sound that caught Sun’s owner Sam Phillips’ ear when Elvis, out of desperation tried this one last song at his Sun audition.The soulful sound Sam Phillips liked inspired many others.

“Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been The Beatles.”

-John Lennon

33rpm record album, Million Dollar Quartet, released 1981

33rpm record album, Million Dollar Quartet,
released 1981

The Million Dollar Quartet included Sun artists
Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins,
and Johnny Cash, who recorded this spontaneous
session of gospel music at Sun Records
in Memphis in 1956. 2013.119

 

 

 

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
FREE ADMISSION
 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 

 
 
tn4me
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
FREE ADMISSION
 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 

 
 
tn4me