Marion Keisker or Sam Phillips? To dispel any notion who really did discovered Elvis Presley one has to go back to the beginning Sun Records Memphis
Who Really Discovered Elvis? To dispel any notion who really did discover the talent of Elvis Presley, one has to go back to the beginning and investigate the facts from fiction. Fact: It was July 1953, Elvis then aged 18 and just graduated from Humes High School. It was a Saturday not a weekday thus dispels the idea that Elvis was taking off a couple of minutes from his lunch hour to shell out four dollars to make a record on a mere impulse.
Fact: Marion Keisker who had been a well-known radio personality was now working the front desk at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studio. Fact: There was something about Elvis that stuck him apart from all the other hopefuls with guitars – who were waiting to be discovered.
Fact: Marion Keisker noticed that this young Elvis looked very different, the long sideburns he has grown and his loud clothes. But mostly he was charming and struck up a conversation with Marion. When Marion asked Elvis about himself, he told her he was a singer. What kind of singer are you?, asked Marion Keisker
“I sing all kinds”
“Who do you sound like? asked Marion
“I don’t sound like nobody,” Elvis retorted
“Yeah, I sing hillbilly”
“Who do you sound like in hillbilly?”
“I don’t sound like nobody.”
Fact : Elvis recorded two of his favourite Ink Spots numbers, MY HAPPINESS and THAT’S WHEN YOU HEARTACHES BEGINS. Fact: Half way through the recording Marion thought, I want to tape this. It was something they usually didn’t do, but she wanted Sam Phillips to hear it.
Fact: Marion Keisker recorded most of the first song but all the second song, while remembering Sam’s saying. “If I could find a white man who has the Negro sound I could make a million dollars”
Fact: Call it luck. Call it fate! That on that day Elvis walked into Sun Studio it was Marion Keisker not Sam Phillips at the front desk. But mostly that Marion saw the potential in the teenage Elvis.
Fact: Marion Keisker asked for his name – which she spelt Pressley – and for his address and phone number – and added the note ‘good ballad singer – hold’
Fact: Elvis recording as usually claimed was as a birthday gift for his mother. There are two reason why this could not be so. First Gladys’ birthday was back in April and the Presley’s did not own a phonograph.
Fact: It has been speculated that in fact it was an 20th wedding anniversary gift which was 17 June 1953
Fact: Marion did play the record for Sam although impressed but thought the boy needed a lot of work. So he filed Elvis card into the files and not till January 1954 Elvis went back to Sun Studio and met Sam at the front desk. Sam did remember his conversation about Elvis with Marion, however, gave nothing away to Elvis.
Fact: Sam invited Elvis into the recording studio with Sam in the control room Elvis sang two country songs, CASUAL LOVE AFFAIR and I’LL NEVER STAND IN YOU WAY after which he filed the records and forgot.
Fact: It was not until May that year that Sam Phillips finally called Elvis … after Marion suggested the kid with the sideburns to record the song WITHOUT YOU after he couldn’t locate the black singer he wanted.
Fact: It was Marion Keisker who called Elvis at work. As she recalls, “I was still standing there holding the phone when Elvis arrived panting, having run all the way.
Fact: Elvis could not master the song WITHOUT YOU. Sam then asked Elvis to do anything he wanted. Elvis sang several Dean Martin songs.
Fact: On Monday 5 July while fooling around with Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Back on bass, late at the Sun Studio, Elvis started to sing THAT’S ALL RIGHT MAMA. Sam in the control room recorded it and the rest is history…. Years later, Elvis would be quick to remind anyone who would ask that it was in fact Marion Keisker not Sam Phillips who saw his potential. However, it was Sam to realise Elvis’ dream. Sam Phillips