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Million Dollar Quartet


The Million Dollar Quartet is a name given to a gathering of musicians in Memphis, Tennessee on December 4, 1956. At the time, Elvis Presley was at the height of his fame and recorded the informal session which has become an iconic rock 'n' roll moment. The four musicians present that day were Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.

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Songs and Recording

After the informal jam session, Elvis and Johnny Cash had a conversation about making a record together. A few days later, Elvis and Johnny were at Sun Studio recording the song 'Fever.' During an interview on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' Presley told Oprah that he decided to record with Johnny because 'Fever' was one of his mother's favorite songs.


Once the song was recorded, there were no plans of releasing it until Sam Phillips suggested it. All four musicians agreed to appear on the record, even though only three were going to be in the movie. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded his vocals separately from the other three musicians in Nashville at RCA Studios in December 1956. One month later, Carl Perkins recorded vocals as well. They were then mixed together at Sun Studio in Memphis on February 1957; the song was released as 'At the Playhouse.'


Several years later, Elvis and Johnny Cash were talking about making a record of their collaboration. Johnny told Elvis that they should reconsider releasing it because it was not a very good recording. Elvis agreed with this and he had produced a recording of himself singing 'Fever.' When they listened to it, they both agreed that the record was much better than the original collaboration. When Sam Phillips heard this, he decided to re-record the song with all four of them present live at Sun Studio.

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On December 4, 1956, Johnny, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis were together at Sun Studio. Carl Perkins called to say that he was on his way to Memphis, but wouldn't arrive until after 3:00 pm. When he came into the studio a few hours later, Elvis asked him if he wanted to jam with them. At first Perkins thought that this offer was a joke or a trick being played on him by Elvis and his friends. Eventually, though, Elvis persuaded him to play with them and told him that they were going to record 'Blue Suede Shoes' as well as the song “Matchbox.”


In the session, Elvis is recorded singing 'Blue Suede Shoes,' 'A Fool Such as I,' and 'Heartbreak Hotel.' In his book, 'Still on the Hill: A Hundred Years of Memphis Music' John Floyd says that Elvis was a little nervous about recording with the other musicians because he had only sung with his backing band, however, he soon relaxed. He also states that Johnny Cash showed no signs of stage fright and Jerry Lee Lewis came off as a brash and confident performer.

Million Dollar Quartet Tickets

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