Statement of Significance (as of designation - July 31, 2003):
Sam Phillips established his Sun Record Company here in 1952. He discovered and recorded many of rock'n' roll's greatest artists, including among others, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Rufus Thomas, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, and Roy Orbison. Post World War II America was a land in transition, a time when music became a significant cultural force. New attitudes toward race relations accompanied the new form of music, rock n roll, that burst forth in the mid 1950s. Some changes had already been noted by performers and followers of rhythm and blues music, but racial barriers really began to fall in the wake of rock n roll. Younger people, particularly in the South, understood that the new music had roots in both black and white musical traditions. The new generation embraced the new music not only because it moved them and they loved it, but also because it symbolized freedom and defiance of the status quo. The impact of Sam Philliips on that generation was profound.