I'm still in the thick of reading Peter Guralnick's Sam Phillips - The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll, and it's a whopper. So good that I've found it hard to listen to anything other than Sun related stuff for the past week. Just about every page has some factoid, story or quote worthy of a bookmark. My brand new copy is no more. It's dogeared to shit.
If you happen to have read it, or are reading it, you know the name Dewey Phillips, the Memphis DJ that was pals with Phillips. The only guy Sam Phillips really let his hair down with, particularly because Dewey Phillips was such a good natured fast talking good ol' boy. Sam Phillips's girl Friday, Marion Keisker MacInnes, who was dedicated and indispensable at Sun from the start, thought Dewey Phillips was crass, common, in short a hick. You can get a good a good idea of where both impressions come from by listening to an hour his show, Red Hot and Blue as aired on WHBQ in the early fifties. An interesting thing to note is the way he talks over the records, not just as the intros but even in the middle of songs, which is exactly how the whole reggae DJ sub-genre began a decade and a half later. A hick U-Roy.
Phillips song selection on this particular show is 100% hell yeah: Amos Milburn, Rosco Gordon, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Larry Williams, Bill Dogget..you get the idea, and when this non-stop yapper opens his mouth, you can understand why he was a hot DJ. Even his improvised pitches for beer, furniture, suits and beer are entertaining. To wit, in a spot for CV beer, he recommends that when you're "playin' canasta or whatever" and you have your CV beer, "you jus' go back to the fridge there, and if the ol' lady has it crammed full of ham 'n eggs 'n all dat, you jus' pull 'em out and lay 'en down on the floor, put dat CV in there and get it cold." This guy's a trip.
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