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Sun Records is a record label founded in Memphismarker, Tennesseemarker, starting operations on March 27, 1952.

Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was known for giving notable musicians such as Elvis Presley (whose recording contract was sold to RCA Victor Records for $35,000 in 1955 to relieve financial difficulties they were going through), Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Buddy McNeil, and Johnny Cash their first recording contracts and helping to launch their careers. Before those days Sun Records had mainly been noted for recording African-American artists, as Phillips loved Rhythm and Blues and wanted to get black music recorded for a white audience. It was Sun record producer and engineer, Jack Clement, who discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis, while owner Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Floridamarker. The original Sun Records logo was designed by John Gale Parker, Jr., a resident of Memphis and high school classmate of Phillips.


The music of many Sun Records musicians helped lay part of the foundation of late 20th century popular music and rock and roll, plus it influenced many younger musicians, particularly the Beatles. In 2001, Paul McCartney appeared on a tribute compilation album titled Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy Of Sun Records.

In 1969, Mercury Records label producer Shelby Singleton— noted for producing the Ray Stevens' hit "Ahab The Arab" in 1962, and later Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 hit single "Harper Valley PTA" on his Nashville based Plantation Records label — purchased the Sun label from Phillips. Singleton merged his operations into Sun International Corporation, which re-released and re-packaged compilations of Sun's early artists in the early 1970s. It would later introduce rockabilly tribute singer Jimmy Ellis in 1980 as Orion taking on the persona of Elvis Presley. The company remains in business today as Sun Entertainment Corporation, which currently licenses its brand and classic hit recordings (many of which have appeared in CD boxed sets and other compilations) to independent reissue labels. Sun Entertainment also includes SSS International Records, Plantation Records, Amazon Records, Red Bird Records, Blue Cat Records among other labels the company acquired over the years.[14776] Its website sells collectible items as well as compact discs bearing the original 1950s Sun logo.

Other "Sun Records"

There were as many as eight other record companies that preceded and/or were contemporary with the Memphis label.

The other Sun Records that preceded the Memphis company by nearly forty years in one case, and six years in the other, or even those that were contemporary with it were never as significant to the history of twentieth century music as Sam Phillips' little record company that operated out of his Memphis Recording Service. Since Sam had invested in the Holiday Inn Hotel chain earlier, he also recorded artist starting in 1963 on the label Holiday Inn Records for Kemmons Wilson.

Two Sun Records were offered on in August and September 2006 and were pressed in Germany, probably around 1905–1912, for the Sun Record Company of Bombay, India, and referred to on the label as the Sun Disc Record to differentiate the discs from cylinder records also produced by the company. This Sun Record Company might have been the first to use that name. By 1919 another Sun Record Company came to life in Canada, but it, too, soon disappeared. The Canadian Sun Records were produced by the Sun Record Company of Torontomarker, Canadamarker (a unit of Compo Company Ltd.) in the 1920s. Many or all of the masters pressed were leased from the U.S.marker based Okeh Records.[14777]

The first American phonograph record to bear the famous “Sun Record” name came into being in the 1910s.

Another Sun Record, founded in New York City in 1946, was intended as an outlet for Jewish musicians and singers, including the famous Yiddish singer, Herman Yablokoff, whose immensely popular Papirossen [Sun 1050] was the top selling record for the label. Billing itself as “The Brightest Thing on Records,” it was already fading into oblivion when the Memphis Recording Service issued its first Sun record in February 1952. But it did contribute one thing, albeit unintentionally, to the Sun Record Company of Memphis, that being the design of the label itself that was copied directly from the New York City-based Sun Record Company.

Another label, an Arabic language Sun Record Company came into being at about the same time, but little is known about its history.

A legal battle was fought over the name “Sun” between the Memphis Recording Service of Memphis, which was issuing records on the Sun label, and the Sun Recording Company of Albuquerquemarker, New Mexicomarker, also issuing records on the Sun label. Louise Massey, the “Sweetheart of the West” who co-wrote My Adobe Hacienda and whose brother wrote the theme song for television’s Petticoat Junction, among others, was its top artist. The lawsuit was settled in favor of the Memphis-based label, but no one noticed that the name and similar label had been in existence in New York for more than six years. The New York-based Sun Recording Corporation was virtually extinct by then, so even if anyone had noticed, no legal action was taken. The Memphis-based Sun Record Company went on to become the label that brought rock and roll music to the world, enjoying early success with Sun 181, Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) by Rufus Thomas – which also led to Sam Phillips’ second major lawsuit and the record was re-issued with the phrase (The Answer to Hound Dog) deleted. Sun Records in Memphismarker was sold in 1969 and still operates as Sun Records under the parent company Sun Entertainment Corporation. But the use of the name Sun Record Company did not end there. One other Sun existed during a slightly later era: the Sun Record Company based in Manilamarker. This company did not attempt to disguise its copying of the Memphismarker Sun labels and re-issued records released by other Americanmarker labels, such as Imperial 5528, Poor Little Fool written by Eddie Cochran’s fiancée, Sharon Sheeley, which became a massive hit for Ricky Nelson in 1958.

Even though Sam Phillips has died, the sun has not yet set on Sun Records. Numerous licenses have been issued to Germany’s Bear Family Records, England’s Charly Records, and other companies to issue and re-issue the Memphis Sun Records, some with the familiar brown on yellow label. Other companies are re-issuing Louise Massey’s recordings from the Albuquerque-based Sun Record Company.

The first 'Sun Records' in Europe were single-sided disc records put out by The Crystalate Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company Ltd. of Tonbridgemarker, Kentmarker, Englandmarker, from about 1905 to 1910. (The same company would later produce records under the name Imperial Records). A nearly contemporaneous label was produced in the United Statesmarker by the Leeds & Catlin company, about 1905–1907.

Jazz saxophonist Frank Wright also started Sun Records while living in Paris, France.

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