Million Dollar Quartet recalls historic jam session

Million Dollar Quartet recalls historic jam session

Credit: Paul Natkin

James Barry as Carl Perkins in the national tour of Million Dollar Quartet.

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by Emily Hummel, KVUE.com

kvue.com

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 7:54 AM

AUSTIN -- The Broadway show celebrating the day four rock n’ roll pioneers shared a recording studio is coming to Austin.

“Million Dollar Quartet” takes the stage at Bass Concert Hall from April 9-14. The Tony award-winning musical was inspired by the day in 1956 when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley jammed at Sun Records in Memphis, TN.

As the first generation of rock stars, each was an orginal who left an impact on history. Presley and Cash remain household names. Jerry Lee Lewis brought a flamboyant style to the stage and grabbed headlines with his personal life. Carl Perkins of “Blue Suede Shoes” fame influenced artists who followed him, including the Beatles, who recorded seven of his songs. “Carl's tough yet clever lyrics, his unique approach to electric lead guitar and the fact that he actually wrote his own material made him one of the giants of his generation of music,” says James Barry, who portrays Perkins in the show.

Sun Records owner Sam Phillips was responsible for bringing together the million dollar quartet. He nurtured Southern musicians, recording numerous great artists: Rufus Thomas, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner… “The list goes on and on,” says Barry. “As far as our characters go, their careers would never have been possible without his faith and devotion to musical revolution. Sam Phillips was punk rock.” 

Barry adds that it’s daunting to play a real person on stage. “Opening night in Memphis, Carl's son Stan was watching me play sound check. I could barely move my fingers.  You want so badly to live up to the legend, and when you find yourself rockin' in your character's home turf, you must try to measure up to the spirit of the man himself,” he explains. “That challenge is an honor I do not take lightly.  I only wish I could have met the man myself and shook his hand and thanked him for his immeasurable contributions to modern music and pop culture.”

Songs in the show include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Hound Dog,” and others.

For tickets to Million Dollar Quartet and more information, visit BroadwayInAustin.com.
 

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