Sun Studio named historic landmark
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An upholstery shop turned rock 'n' roll recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, became a National Historic Landmark Thursday, one day after the death of the studio's founder.
The building was the birthplace of Sun Records, one of the most famous recording labels in music history, linked to names such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
It is the first recording studio to be granted National Historic Landmark status.
Sun Records founder Sam Phillips died Wednesday. He was 80. (Full story)
At the Capitol Hill ceremony marking the historic landmark designation, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, acknowledged Phillips.
"By designating Sun Studio as a National Historic Landmark, we also pay tribute to Sam Phillips and his musical legacy," Frist said. "Sam is often credited with the invention of rock 'n' roll."
Sun Records was founded in 1952 when Phillips converted the building at 706 Union Avenue and started his business with the motto: "We record anything -- anywhere -- anytime."
In 1953 Elvis Presley went to Sun's Memphis Recording Service to record a song for his mother.
He recorded a few other tunes over the next year, but fame didn't come until he recorded "That's All Right, (Mama)" in July of 1954. Phillips sold Presley's contract to RCA in 1955.
Sun Records is considered the first great rock 'n' roll record label.
Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls Of Fire" was one of the studio's most successful hits, and "Blue Suede Shoes" was first recorded by Carl Perkins under the Sun label.
Johnny Cash sold more than 10 million records under the label. More recently, artists such as U2, Paul Simon, Def Leppard and Matchbox 20 have all used the recording studio.
"At a time really before our Supreme Court and government made it clear that we would integrate the races in America, Sam Phillips was down in Memphis mixing it up right and left," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee.
"He took gospel music and he took country music and he took blues music which already existed and created rock 'n' roll."
Phillips sold Sun Records to Shelby Singleton of Mercury Records in 1969.
The National Historic Landmark designation is granted to places where significant historical events occurred.
CNN producer Sally Holland contributed to this report.