Phillips was interested primarily in the blues, an art form which he thought both white and black people understood. As he said, it was how people “relieved the burden of what existed day in and day out.” WK In addition to the blues artists mentioned above, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, and Rufus Thomas recorded there.
Part of the company’s appeal, however, was its broad range of genres. Sun has become most associated with launching the careers of more rockabilly-oriented artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison. Of course, the label benefited most from its discovery of Elvis Presley. When Sun was experiencing financial trouble in 1955, Phillips famously sold Elvis’ contract to RCA Records. The sale helped boost some of the other artists, most notably the distribution for Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”, the first national hit for Sun Records.
In 1959, Phillips Recording opened to replace the old facility. Phillips sold the label in 1969. Gary Hardy reopened the original building in 1987 as Sun Studio and attracted artists such as U2, Def Leppard, Ringo Starr, and Bonnie Raitt. In 2003, the building was recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
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