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Uncovering Memphis Rock 'n' Roll History: An Exclusive Interview with Jimmy Harrell


Jimmy Harrell from Alton and Jimmy holding a guitar, highlighting his contributions to Memphis rock 'n' roll history.
Jimmy Harrell, from Alton and Jimmy, holding his guitar

A Closer Look at Memphis Music History

In this blog, I'm sharing the highlights from my very first podcast episode, where we explored the rich musical heritage of Memphis. Known for my performances on Beale Street and my love for Memphis music, I can't wait to take you on this journey.


Sun Records: The Heartbeat of Memphis Rock 'n' Roll History

In our inaugural episode, we couldn't start anywhere but Sun Records. Founded by Sam Phillips in the early 1950s, Sun Records is where legends like Elvis Presley got their start. Today, we're exploring Sun number 323, a record by Alton and Jimmy.


 Sun Records 323 A-Side "No More Crying the Blues" by Alton and Jimmy, a significant record in Memphis rock 'n' roll history.
Sun Records 323 A-Side "No More Crying the Blues" by Alton and Jimmy


An Exclusive Chat with Jimmy Harrell

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmy Harrell from Alton and Jimmy, and we talked about the making of their Sun record. Here are some highlights from our conversation:


Brandon: Hey Jimmy, how are you?

Jimmy: Hey Brandon, doing fine, how are you?

Brandon: I'm doing great and so happy to have you today on the podcast. This is my very first show, and I first met you a couple of years ago at the Rockabilly Festival here in Memphis.

Jimmy: That's right. I really enjoyed meeting you and being with the other guys like Sonny Burgess and the Pacers.

Brandon: So, how do you know Alton? You guys started recording even before Sun Records, right?

Jimmy: Yeah, we began recording in New Orleans in 1958, thanks to Johnny Vincent from Ace Records.

Brandon: How did you end up at Sun Records then?

Jimmy: It was through a great buddy of ours who called Curly. We went to his house, sang a couple of songs, and the next thing we knew, we were at Sun Records signing a contract!


The Stories Behind the Songs

One of the songs we talked about was "Have Faith in My Love." Here's Jimmy's story behind it:


Brandon: Looking at the record here, it says, "Have Faith in My Love." How did that song come about?

Jimmy: Well, I started going with a girl in Jackson, but she ended things, by saying we should just be friends. The next morning, I started writing, and that's how the song was born.

Brandon: That's a great story. How about "No More Crying the Blues"?

Jimmy: Alton and I both had past relationships that didn't work out. One day, we decided to just forget about those and move on, and that's how we came up with the song.



Sun Records 323 B-Side "Have Faith in My Love" by Alton and Jimmy, showcasing their musical talent and contribution to Memphis rock 'n' roll history.
Sun Records 323 B-Side "Have Faith in My Love" by Alton and Jimmy

Behind the Scenes at Sun Records

Jimmy shared some incredible behind-the-scenes stories from their recording sessions at Sun Records:


Brandon: Tell me about your recording sessions at Sun. I heard there was an interesting encounter with Jerry Lee Lewis?

Jimmy: Oh, yes! During one session, Jerry Lee Lewis stormed in, looking for Sam Phillips. After a heated conversation, he took us out for cheeseburgers and Coca-Cola. He even joked about leaving Sun Records!



Young Jerry Lee Lewis playing the piano, showcasing his energetic and influential early performances in rock 'n' roll history.
A young Jerry Lee Lewis playing the piano, capturing the energy of his early performances


Curious to hear more? The full interview is packed with fascinating insights and untold stories from the early days of rock 'n' roll. Click here to listen to the complete 20-minute interview with Jimmy Harrell.




Logo of Rock 'n' Roll Tours, offering immersive tours into the musical history of Memphis.
Rock 'n' Roll Tours Logo

Ready to Dive Deeper into Memphis Music History?


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