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November 28, 2001 | ROBERT HILBURN, TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC
Tonight's installment in the Emmy-winning "American Masters" series on PBS is a frequently compelling look at the history of Sam Phillips' Sun Records, the Memphis label that helped define rock 'n' roll in the '50s through the music of such seminal figures as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. "Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records" (9 p.m.
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IMAGE
March 24, 2014 | By Adam Tschorn
Today it's rare to see a piece of celebrity-worn apparel - on screen or off - that can't be identified and even purchased with a few mouse clicks. From politician Sarah Palin's eyeglass frames (Kawasaki 704s) to film protagonist Jay Gatsby's bow tie (Brooks Bros.), the power of the Internet has made the world one great, big clickable catalog. But what if the jacket you covet was the one Amelia Earhart was wearing on her 1932 solo flight across the Atlantic? Or the dress of your dreams was last seen on Josephine Baker in a 1940 wartime photograph?
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ENTERTAINMENT
July 11, 2004
Thank you for Robert Hilburn's piece on Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips and the birth of rock ("Rock's Delivery Room," July 4). However, twice in his piece, Bob refers to a "receptionist" at Sun Records. The receptionist had a name -- Marion Keisker. According to the two best Elvis bios (by Jerry Hopkins and Peter Guralnick), Keisker -- a prominent Memphis radio personality before joining Phillips when he opened Memphis Recording Service in 1950 -- was the first person to meet the young Elvis when he initially came into the studio to record a demo.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 2013 | By Nardine Saad
Ashton Kutcher is putting the moves on girlfriend Mila Kunis, or someone who appears to be Kunis, since the photo is so darn dark. But still: Kelso and Jackie, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. The "That '70s Show" costars, who have been dating for months, are seemingly caught in a liplock in a photo Kutcher posted on social media. The couple is barely visible as they smooch under a neon sign that says "Sun," but the arty shot is so backlit that their profiles almost blend into the background, save for Kunis' - or what appears to be Kunis' - messy bun and a little peek of Kutcher's eye. PHOTOS: Celebrity splits of 2013 "Sunset #nofilter," Kutcher captioned the photo that he shared Tuesday on both Twitter and Instagram . The deed went down in front of Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn., according to Us Weekly, and just after the "Two and a Half Men" star finalized his 2-year-long divorce from actress Demi Moore, 51, in late November.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 16, 2001 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Rufus Thomas, 84, a singer whose "Bear Cat" helped Sun Records get its start before Elvis Presley signed with the company, died Saturday at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where he had been confined with an undisclosed illness since Thanksgiving. Born in Cayce, Miss., and reared in Memphis, Thomas began tap dancing on the streets there for tips and performed in amateur shows in high school. In the 1940s, he ran his own Beale Street amateur show, which attracted B.B.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2009 | Randy Lewis
Shelby Singleton, a maverick country music mogul and talent scout who launched the careers of Roger Miller and Ray Stevens before resuscitating the fabled Sun Records label to give new life to recordings by 1950s Sun discoveries including Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, has died. He was 77. Singleton died Wednesday in Nashville following a battle with brain cancer. He had been admitted to St. Thomas Hospital a week earlier after suffering a seizure, his longtime friend and associate Jerry Kennedy said Thursday.
BOOKS
April 21, 1991 | Chris Goodrich
GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll by Colin Escott with Martin Hawkins (St. Martin's: $19.95; 233 pp.). "Unadulterated life"--that's what Sam Phillips was after when he opened the Memphis recording studio in 1950 that would lead to Sun Records and a place in rock history. Phillips would "discover"--how the musicians hated that word!
ENTERTAINMENT
February 20, 2005
A really nice piece by Robert Hilburn ["From the Man Who Would Be King," Feb. 6]. I'd heard and seen Elvis on the first couple of Dorsey brothers shows and still have one of the original Sun Records sides. However, when RCA Victor came out with his first album, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard "Tryin' to Get to You." Years later, when we did the documentary "This Is Elvis" (1981), I learned that "Get to You" was Vernon's favorite song by his son. Gladys' favorite was the incredible "Baby, Let's Play House."
ENTERTAINMENT
June 19, 2013 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Slim Whitman, a country pop singer whose forlorn wail influenced a generation of vocalists in the early 1950s, has died at age 90. Whitman, born in Tampa, Fla., was a regular on the influential country radio program "The Louisiana Hayride" starting in 1950, and first hit with an eerie country pop version of the song “Indian Love Call” in 1951. His death Wednesday at a Florida hospital was due to heart failure, said his son-in-law, Roy Beagle. Discovered by future Elvis Presley manager Col. Tom Parker while Whitman was touring the South, Whitman -- with Parker's guidance -- landed a record deal with RCA (the same label Presley would record for after leaving Sun Records)
ENTERTAINMENT
June 30, 1989 | ROBERT HILBURN, Times Pop Music Critic
If you l-o-v-e "Great Balls of Fire," the new film about Jerry Lee Lewis' notorious beginnings in rock, PolyGram's sound-track album serves as a colorful musical souvenir. The 12-song, 35-minute package includes eight re-recorded versions of Lewis's classic numbers, including "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On" and the title tune, plus such R&B extras as Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" (the original 1951 recording) and a version of "Big Legged Woman" that is performed in the film by Booker T. Laury.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 8, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
"Cowboy" Jack Clement, an influential producer, songwriter and engineer who had been revered in country music since the 1950s and was later sought out by rock acts for his creative input, has died. He was 82. Clement died Thursday of liver cancer at his Nashville home, his friend and fellow producer Dub Cornett told the Associated Press. Clement was the first to record Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. He arranged the signature mariachi horn part for Johnny Cash's original recording of "Ring of Fire," persuaded George Jones to record "She Thinks I Still Care," and produced Waylon Jennings' "Dreaming My Dreams," considered one of the finest albums of the 1970s "outlaw" movement.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 19, 2013 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Slim Whitman, a country pop singer whose forlorn wail influenced a generation of vocalists in the early 1950s, has died at age 90. Whitman, born in Tampa, Fla., was a regular on the influential country radio program "The Louisiana Hayride" starting in 1950, and first hit with an eerie country pop version of the song “Indian Love Call” in 1951. His death Wednesday at a Florida hospital was due to heart failure, said his son-in-law, Roy Beagle. Discovered by future Elvis Presley manager Col. Tom Parker while Whitman was touring the South, Whitman -- with Parker's guidance -- landed a record deal with RCA (the same label Presley would record for after leaving Sun Records)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 16, 2012 | Rosanna Xia
The hot-pink metal chairs and benches in downtown L.A.'s Grand Park were really hot Saturday: so hot that some visitors skipped sitting and ran barefoot through the fountains with their children, while others collapsed in relief in the pockets of shade under the newly planted trees. For the second straight day, temperatures downtown set a record high for the date, with Saturday's 103 degrees beating 1979's 102. The temperature may have gone even higher Saturday, but the thermometer at the downtown weather station stopped working at that 103, weather officials said.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 22, 2012 | Randy Lewis
There's a moment each night in the "Million Dollar Quartet" stage musical when the audience sees a photo revealing that what they've just witnessed on stage -- a rock fan's dream meeting of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins -- was no figment of a writer's fertile imagination but a hard and happy fact of history. "There are audible gasps every night," said Colin Escott, the veteran pop music historian and writer. Escott wrote the book for the show that premiered in 2006 and comes to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from Tuesday to May 6 ahead of a run at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood from June 19 to July 1. The proof exists not just in that celebrated photo taken at Sam Phillips' Sun Records label in Memphis but also in the recordings Phillips was savvy enough to make while the foursome was hanging out, chatting and playing for a couple of hours on Dec. 4, 1956.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2009 | Randy Lewis
Shelby Singleton, a maverick country music mogul and talent scout who launched the careers of Roger Miller and Ray Stevens before resuscitating the fabled Sun Records label to give new life to recordings by 1950s Sun discoveries including Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, has died. He was 77. Singleton died Wednesday in Nashville following a battle with brain cancer. He had been admitted to St. Thomas Hospital a week earlier after suffering a seizure, his longtime friend and associate Jerry Kennedy said Thursday.
TRAVEL
September 13, 2009 | Jay Jones
For first-timers to the lounge at Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, entertainer Pete Vallee certainly lives up to his stage name: Big Elvis. At about 425 pounds, he seems ready to burst out of his bulging black jumpsuit, despite its 60-something-inch waist. Even those who have seen him perform are amazed by his size, not because he's so big but because he's so small. When he began performing at this Strip casino seven years ago, Vallee weighed 945 pounds. "I walked out on stage, and then I sat down.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 29, 1993 | ROBERT HILBURN, TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC
It's easy when reading about Sun Records to think that everyone who stepped to a microphone in that legendary Memphis studio in the '50s and early '60s became a star. After all, the list of singers who did exactly that include Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich and Carl Perkins. But there were dozens of other young singers who passed through Sam Phillips' Sun Studios without becoming celebrated parts of rock history--forgotten names like . . . Johnny Powers.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 24, 1988 | ROBERT HILBURN
Jerry Lee Lewis was such an incandescent figure in '50s rock that no one--least of all the arrogant Lewis himself--was surprised two years ago when he became one of the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Yet most rock fans today probably only know this wild man of the keyboards through about seven minutes of music: the landmark singles "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On," "Breathless" and "Great Balls of Fire."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 4, 2009 | Dennis McLellan
Billy Lee Riley, a rockabilly pioneer and songwriter who recorded for the legendary Sun Records label and is best remembered for his 1957 singles "Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll" and "Red Hot," has died. He was 75. Riley died Sunday of colon cancer that had spread to the bone at a hospital in Jonesboro, Ark., said his wife, Joyce. The Arkansas-born son of a sharecropper who began playing harmonica and guitar as a child, Riley landed at Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1956.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 3, 2006 | Robert Hilburn, Special to The Times
Bear Family Records' "Blowing the Fuse," a 16-volume series of CDs devoted to the evolution of rhythm and blues, is such a brilliant concept that it's a wonder it took all these years for someone to put it together -- or at least put it together right. Countless albums and boxed sets have been devoted to R&B hits from the 1940s and 1950s, but most have been very limited, usually focusing on the same three or four dozen recordings that were most popular during rock's infancy.
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