Rock N’ Roll was a magnificent ramification of the polyamorous marriage between rhythm and blues, country, and gospel music. Each separate music genre and the musicians performing B.R. (Before Rock) deserve substantial credit for their part in inspiring Elvis Presley in the early 1950’s. Memphis Recording Service (AKA Sun Studio) merit recognition for Sam Phillips’ creation of an establishment that not only cherished individuality, but embraced people of all skin colors during a time of heightened racism and segregation. Before Elvis could record the music he loved, music performed primarily by African Americans, he had to be awarded an opportunity to prove himself. Enter Marion Keisker, without whom, Rock N’ Roll may have never existed.
Marion Keisker was titled assistant to Memphis Recording Service owner, Sam Phillips but she was much more than that. Marion ran the front desk, kept the books, and retained knowledge over all of the recording equipment within the studio. On July 18, 1953 an eighteen year old Elvis Presley walked in to Memphis Recording Service to record two songs, “My Happiness,” and “That’s When Your Heartache Begins.” Sam was out of the office that day and it was Marion who recorded Elvis for the first in his career. She made note of his good looks, unique sound, and even went as far as to produce a second copy of the demo for Sam.
With his known detest for ballads, Sam Phillips was not impressed by the demo and did not feel inclined to meet Elvis. Marion however, was not as quick to forget the impressionable face and remarkable voice she had heard. Marion pestered Sam about Elvis each and every day until he was so sick of hearing Elvis’ name that he agreed to meet him. This persistence not only granted Elvis his opportunity but ignited a movement that impacted the entire world. Rock N’ Roll was born and there was no turning back.
This movement altered dancing, clothing, hair styles, and what it meant to be a fan of music. Following in Elvis’ footsteps Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash all got their start at Memphis Recording Service and made their own impression on Rock N’ Roll music. Without Marion Keisker there would have been no one to light the match that lit up the music world and unveiled to us some of the most well-known and beloved musicians in all of music history.
Thank you, Marion.