Newton, NJ – On December 4th, 1956 a jam session took place at Sam Phillip’s Sun Studios that featured four legends – Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley!
The Newton Theatre presents A Night to Remember, a live show recreating the jam session on Saturday, May 13, 2016 at 8:00 pm. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, December 18th at 10:00 am.
The session seems to have happened by pure chance. Perkins, who by this time had already met success with Blue Suede Shoes, had come into the studio that day to cut some new material. He was accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay and drummer W.S. Holland. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who wished to try to fatten this sparse rockabilly instrumentation, had brought in his latest acquisition, singer and piano man extraordinaire Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play piano on the Perkins session.
Sometime in the early afternoon, Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist himself, now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans. At the time he was the biggest name in show business, having hit the top of the singles charts five times and topping the album charts twice in the preceding 12 month period. Less than four months earlier he had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show pulling an unheard of 83% of the television audience, which was estimated at 55 million, the largest in history up to that time.
After chatting with Philips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of Perkins’ session. He liked what he heard and went out into the studio. Sometime after that the jam session began. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had recently enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in. (Cash wrote in his autobiography that he had been first to arrive at the Sun Studio, wanting to listen in on the Perkins recording session.) Cowboy Jack Clement was engineering that day and remembers saying to himself “I think I’d be remiss not to record this” and so he did and the rest is history.
After running through a number of songs, Elvis and girlfriend Evans slipped out as Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano. Cash claims in Cash that “no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis.”
During the session Phillips spotted an opportunity for some publicity and called a local newspaper, the Memphis Press‐Scimitar. Bob Johnson, the newspaper’s entertainment editor, came over to the studios accompanied by a UPI representative named Leo Soroca and a photographer. The following day, an article written by Johnson, was published in the Press‐Scimitar under the title “Million Dollar Quartet”. The article contained the now famous photograph of Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins and Cash (the uncropped version of the photo also includes Evans, shown seated atop the piano).
With the music of Perkins, Presley, Lewis and Cash A Night to Remember will be like a rock and roll royalty jam session of rockabilly, country, gospel and pure 1950’s rock and roll with the exceptional talent that has stood the test of time.
Tickets for A Night To Remember range from $24.00 to $49.00. Purchase tickets by visiting www.thenewtontheatre.com or contact the Box Office at 973-383-3700.
The historic Newton Theatre, located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, NJ, was founded in 1924. Revitalized and fully renovated, Sussex County’s premier entertainment venue reopened in 2011 as a 605 seat capacity live performing arts center. With it’s rich history and diverse programming The Newton Theatre is essential to the buoyancy of New Jersey’s Skylands region. More information about The Newton Theatre may be found by calling 973-383-3700 or by visiting its website at www.TheNewtonTheatre.com.