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Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'N' Roll

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Memphis, Tennessee. The early 1950s. The Mississippi rolls by, and there's a train in the night. Down on Beale Street there's hard-edged blues, on the outskirts of town they're pickin' hillbilly boogie.

At Sam Phillips' Sun Records studio on Union Avenue, there's something different going on. "Shake it, baby, shake it!" "Go, cat, go!" "We're gonna rock..."

This is where rock
...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published April 1st 1991)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  224 ratings  ·  21 reviews


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Kathryn
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: music lovers
When I received the galley for the revised edition of Good Rockin' Tonight, my knowledge of Sun Records was minimal - I knew basically that it existed. I had known some of the legends of early rock and roll cut records with the label - Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy - but I hadn't realized the richness of the label's history before now. While reading this book, what grabbed me the most was the sheer amount of minor record labels active in the 50's and 60's, and the preference of cutting singles as oppose ...more
Sharon
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, memphis, music
Good Rockin' Tonight, which takes its name from one of the most seminal rock-n-roll records, is an intimate look at the ups and downs of Sun Records and founder Sam Phillips.

While it's true that rock-n-roll found its beginnings in the Memphis studio, the same risk-taking that made Phillips pay attention to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash (whose contracts were sold to keep the studio afloat) meant that he recorded some real stinkers and lost money in the process.

Still, there are chapters about the
...more
Grindy Stone
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute gem of music history and Americana, it has the feel of an oral history while at the same time packed with facts. The text is accompanied by dozens of pictures, which just adds to the fun. Even if you have read lots about Elvis or Johnny Cash (whose bios linger long over the Sun Records operation), there are dozens of personalities who get their due in this book, personalities normally overlooked in other histories of the era.
John Fulcoly
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting how these rockers got their start and how the technology was so basic back then. The book got better when I began googling the songs as I went! The early recordings of Elvis, Roy Orbison, johnny cash, and Carl Perkins were great! Really liked the 'other guys' who didn't make it - but sounded just the same as Elvis in some cases. ...more
Tim B
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Good history and pretty comprehensive, but a lot of it reads like a text book and doesn’t draw you in.
Dave Schwensen
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everything and more that you’ve ever wanted to know about Sun Records is covered in this book. If this were a film it would be classified under “documentary.” It appears no sound screen, tape machine or desk drawer was left untapped, un-listened to or unopened to give this account of the legendary recording studio that deserves its reputation as one of the birth places of rock and roll.
*
Owner Sam Phillips didn’t start out with that goal in mind. Sun Records was originally founded on the idea of
...more
Patrick Macke
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
the revelation that a guy named Sam Phillips once upon a time had a label called Sun Records has spawned multiple books in the past year or two ... this one is mostly about the stable of unknown musicians (many soon to be famous), who quite literally walked in off the streets and into Sam's humble recording studio (a term that should be used loosely), Elvis, Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cash, Carl Perkins, etc. ... their nothing-to-something journeys can be interesting, but the overall takeaway is ...more
S.D.
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Have you heard the news? Sun was the first powerhouse independent record label of Rock & Roll music. It’s catalogue, performed by rough-edged musicians who turned out consistently innovative material (even a Top Ten hit here and there), has been exhaustively reissued, much to the delight of Sun connoisseurs. Sadly, the same can’t be said of material written about Sun: most of the books (several also written by Escott and Hawkins, who have contributed impeccably researched liner notes to many Sun ...more
Tosh
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating history of Sun Records. It goes beyond Elvis, and into the psyche of Sam Philips, the owner, the brains, and soul of Sun Records. It seems like everyone involved with Sun was either brilliant, crazy, insane, or just had that genius 'it' quality.

As I mentioned before, I see record labels being very similar to Publishing houses. In fact I don't see the difference whatsoever. But what I do know if there was no Sun Records, we would be living in a totally different culture. So thank you
...more
Michael Smith
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Truly a fun and exciting journey into the past. The birth of rock and roll was a major point in history, and Sam Phillips and his SUN Records was a huge part of that birth, with the recording of early sides by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and more. It's a remarkable story of a man who had the vision and wouldn't let anything, or anyone, sway him from his path to destiny. ...more
Garrett Cash
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent overview of the most influential record label of all time. It recounted the same things I had heard before in a fresh way, but I was mostly happy about the fact that I got to learn a lot more about the minor players than I knew before. The blues artists who came before Elvis, and all the Elvis wannabes who came in his wake. Fascinating material.
Anthony Glass
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-americana
I actually bought it at Sun studios on vacation a couple years back and hadn't gotten around to reading it until last summer. Pretty quick read and a very good overview of, not only the operation and the hazards of the business, but the music scene in Memphis in general. ...more
Monty
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Lots of good information here. Tells the story of Sun and Sam Phillips, mostly through extensive profiles of some of the more important musicians he recorded. Very interesting, if slightly repetitive.
R.Friend
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music
An excellent little overview of the legendary Sun Records studio that also sheds light on some of its more obscure, earlier artists.
John
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Good book on the studio that brought us many singers that are now household names. Should be read by those interested in Rock N Roll history
Dkolacinski
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fascinating history of Sun Records, as shown through its artists.
Karen
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This was a great history of Sun Records. Lots of great stories not generally well known about the artists and the songs.
Justin
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A deep dive into the practical philosophy of the great music producer. Some dry spots, but overall a special book.
Jerry
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every new book that comes out about Sun Records seems to top the last one as more and more sources appear and we really understand how it revolutionized early Rock 'n' Roll. ...more
Luke Brodine
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, non-fiction
Lots of info for the Sun novice. At times a little overboard. I recommend tracking down the song lists at the end of each chapter to hear the progression of the Sun sound.
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May 15, 2019
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Colin Escott is the foremost authority on Sun Records. He first wrote the company’s history in 1975 and has revised and expanded it several times since. He has published several other volumes on the early days of country music, including a biography of Hank Williams and The Grand Ole Opry: The Making of an American Icon. He won a Grammy for his work on Mercury Records’ The Complete Hank Williams, ...more

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