Sam Phillips Music Celebration

1st annual tribute to Sam Phillips will be held in the Shoals area of Alabama

Music celebration set for January will honor Sam Phillips
By Russ Corey
Staff Writer

FLORENCE -- Jerry Phillips wants to see his father's legacy preserved.  The son of legendary Sun Records founder Sam Phillips said the Sam Phillips Music Celebration is one way to accomplish that.  "This is a-Shoalswide event," said Big River Broadcasting promotions director Jimmy Oliver. "Sam Phillips loved the whole Shoals area."  The celebration will be Jan. 3-7, 2006 at several locations in Sheffield and Florence.

A Florence native, Sam Phillips is known for discovering Rock 'n' Roll pioneers such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich. Lewis, affectionately known as "The Killer," will headline a concert at the conference center Jan. 7.  "This is so overdue," said Florence Mayor Bobby Irons. "(Sam Phillips) has done so much for the musical heritage we have in our community."

Jerry Phillips said the idea is not only to honor his father's accomplishments, but the musical heritage of the Shoals of which Sam Phillips was a part of before moving to Memphis, Tenn., where he founded Sun Records.  "He never forgot about his roots," Phillips said. "I really think this will turn into something to really benefit us all." Sam Phillips has been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

The celebration will officially begin Jan. 3 at the main post office in Florence with the commemoration of a Sam Phillips cancellation stamp. A portrait of Sam Phillips that will hang in the post office will also be unveiled.  Several events will follow at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library. A historical marker will be dedicated at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa.  The marker will be located near the hotel's front entrance. The Marriott will also dedicate one of its 2,200-square-foot suites to Sam Phillips.

On the evening of the main concert, Oliver said the conference center will be decorated to resemble Beale Street in Memphis.  Rooms will be decorated like Beale Street clubs and will feature a variety of Sam Phillips-influenced music.

As his father influenced a generation of performers, Jerry Phillips said performers like Presley and Lewis went on to influence a whole new generation of musicians like Elton John and Aerosmith.  "There's no one in the music business today that hasn't been influenced some way by Sam's music," Phillips said.  He said he speaks to many young people who are listening to artists who have rediscovered traditional rock and roll.

Sheffield Mayor Billy Don Anderson said he is glad that parts of the celebration will take place in his city.  "We need to continue to search for opportunities to capitalize on the rich musical heritage of our whole community," Anderson said.  "Music is a universal language that knows no boundaries," added David Johnson, director of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Tickets to the main concert are $50 and corporate tables will be available.

For details, contact Nick Martin, of Big River Broadcasting, at (256) 764-8121 or, or

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