“For the past two years, Branson audiences have had the thrill of experiencing the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet, joining the ranks of the millions throughout the world who have enjoyed it since its creation in 2007, by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Prior to hearing about the Million Dollar Quartet show, most are not even aware of the event that the show was based on and, even after seeing it, many do not realize how improbable it was that we would be celebrating the 60th anniversary of that event,” she added.
Wood points out that it’s obvious we are not celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Million Dollar Quartet show. What’s being celebrated is the 60th anniversary of the greatest Rock n’ Roll jam session of all time; a onetime impromptu event, involving four young performers, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, in the early stages of their careers. It happened in Memphis, TN inside the storefront recording studio of Sun Records on December 4, 1956.
Carl Perkins, Sun recording artist, was in the studio along with his brother Jay on bass, and drummer, WS “Fluke” Holland, and Sun recording artist Jerry Lee Lewis, who was there to play piano for the Perkins’ recording session of “Matchbox.” Sun recording artist, Johnny Cash, came in to observe the recording session and talk with Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. Still later, Elvis Presley, RCA and ex-Sun Recording artist, dropped by with a girl he was seeing at the time, Marilyn Evans.
As musicians have done since time in memoriam, they just started “jamming.” When Phillips saw the improbable session taking place he called Bob Johnson, the entertainment editor of the “Memphis Press-Scimitar,” and invited him over. He came and brought a photographer with him. The next day Phillips wrote a story on the jam session calling them the “Million Dollar Quartet” which was accompanied by a photograph of the four around the piano.
The impromptu jam session would not have been recorded, but for the efforts of sound technician Jack Clement, who was there to record the Perkins session. As the informal jam session got underway, Clement decided that he would be remiss if he did not record it so, without anyone’s knowledge, he did.
Probably because no one knew that Clement had recorded the session, and despite “The Million Dollar Quartet” news story, the recording went unnoticed, into the Sun Records “library,” where it remained for decades until discovered by a new owner of Sun Records as they worked through the contents of the library. It was recorded and released in Europe in 1981, in the United States in 1990, and became the basis for the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet in 2007.
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of this historic event, on December 4th, 2016, some of Branson’s biggest stars will join the cast of the Million Dollar Quartet in paying a musical tribute to the four legends and “to express their gratitude for the inspirational music they have given. “One of the highlights of the Million Dollar Quartet show is the finale that re-creates just how special that jam session was,” said Dathan Atchison, General Manager of the Welk Resort Branson.
“We are so honored to have these incredible guests join us in celebrating that historic night, and the four men who have inspired generations of performers,” Atchison continued. “The influence of the four members of the “Million Dollar Quartet” is certainly felt in Branson, and we are so thankful that Jim Stafford, Billy Dean, New South and David Brooks have been gracious enough to not only come and sing, but to share stories of how that influence changed their lives. It is going to be a rockin’ good time and a fitting tribute to four of the greatest entertainers in history,” he added.
Running through December 31, 2016, the Million Dollar Quartet tells the story and captures the high energy spirit and rockin’ sounds of a unique moment when four of music’s most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history” and features the greatest rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits from these music legends, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Walk The Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog,” “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and so many more.
For more information and tickets for the Million Dollar Quartet or other great Branson shows or lodging, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of almost 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.