Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, all terrific performers of the rock ’n’ roll era in their own right, but performing together probably one of the greatest collaborations of popular music history.
All four started their careers under the guiding hand of owner of Sun Records, Sam Phillips.
Elvis Presley started his recording career at Sun but as he started to gain popularity the cash strapped Phillips was forced to accept an offer from RCA for Presley’s contract.
Elvis remained friendly with Phillips and in December 1956 popped into the studios to see his old mentor. Carl Perkins, the man who not only wrote Blue Suede Shoes, but also had the first hit with it, was at the studio recording some new tracks. Playing piano for the Perkins’ session was new Sun signing Jerry Lee Lewis.
Throughout the afternoon Johnny Cash dropped in as well. The quartet chatted and jammed the winter afternoon away, they were young men who were just playing around with the music they loved.
Fortunately when the Perkins session turned into the jam session the studio engineer didn’t stop the tapes rolling and so one of the most historic afternoons in music was saved for posterity.
The Million Dollar Quartet musical reconstructs that afternoon as well as giving a little of the back story. The musical has played all over the world and is currently on a UK tour.
Actor and former Spandau Ballet man, Martin Kemp takes the role of Sam Phillips, piecing the story together.
The cast of actor-musicians turn in a fantastic performance but worthy of special note are Martin Kaye playing the part of Jerry Lee…. he is the legendary performer at his wildest, brilliant best. Also notable was Robbie Durham as Johnny Cash.
If you remember rock ’n’ roll you’ll love this, if you missed it but love music and it’s history equally so. All in all this is a production that is not to be missed and with the superb production you will feel like you are a fly-on-the-wall of one of the most historic musical collaborations ever.
Playing at the Ipswich Regent, until Saturday 25th November 01473 433100 and then on UK tour.
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine