I am sure most folks don't know how much fine music was created by the efforts of tireless musicians like Little Milton Campbell and Sun Records producer Sam Phillips. Once you dig into it just a litle bit you will find an astonishing wealth of powerful influences.
This is just my attempt to note the passing of Little Milton, who died at the age of 71 on Thursday. He cut his first hit at Sun Studios with Sam about the same time Sam was laying down tracks of another newcomer named Elvis Presley. Just last night PBS aired an American Masters program on the late Sam Phillips, a wiley and brilliant producer who oversaw the blending of Gospel, Blues, Bluegrass and Country and made something brand new called Rock and Roll.
The names are legends -- Elvis, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Billy Riley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis -- not to mention all the blues greats he made time and room for with such energy, such as Little Milton. The energy was hot as a Sun in those studios that Sam called 'a cathedral.'
So many that got that proverbial foot in the door from Sam, usually left and made it to Legend status elsewhere, taking the sounds with them that Sam and his studio helped to nurture into life. Needing to keep the doors open, he sold Elvis contract to RCA for 30,000 dollars, but for my money, the best sessions he ever cut were in that cathedral.
I know that 50-Cent is the Legend today, but he's walking the path cut by Little Milton and Sam.
I'll be mentioning Sam, Sun, Memphis, Stax and Tom Dowd in coming days -- they made Tennessee the birthplace of great American music.