Sun Studio in Memphis is often referred to as the “birthplace of rock & roll.” The Sun Studio Tour lets you witness the history firsthand!
It’s rare that I’m ever in awe of anything, but standing in the actual spot where Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins recorded together in 1956 was pretty amazing.
Sun Studio history and artist appearances
Sun Studio is a legendary recording studio where some of the most influential figures in music history have recorded their work.
It was opened by Sam Phillips, who discovered and produced early rock & roll stars like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
Sun Studio has become an iconic symbol of American music culture and continues to be a popular tourist destination for fans from around the world.
This historic building serves as a reminder of how far modern music has come since its humble beginnings at this small recording studio in 1950s Memphis.
Today, visitors can tour the facility and even record their own music using vintage equipment that remains unchanged since it was used by legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
The studio was in its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s, but eventually closed down. It was re-opened in 1987, and rock bands like U2 and Def Leppard began recording there. Who wouldn’t want to record in a place with all that history?
Because of Sun Studio’s history, musicians stop by all the time when they’re visiting Memphis, so you may even get a celebrity sighting during your visit.
The last time I visited, Elvis Costello happened to be there with blues legend Hubert Sumlin, as evidenced by this awesomely blurry photo:
Visiting Sun Studio in Memphis
The Sun Studio tour begins upstairs, where you are treated to the sights and sounds. Historic memorabilia is on display, and audio clips are played as the guide provides information about the beginnings of rock ‘n roll history.
Then, you move downstairs into the very studio where the “Million Dollar Quartet” recorded.
You can even pose with a microphone used by Elvis and the rest of the legendary figures.
There’s also a crowded gift shop that sells t-shirts, hats, and tons of other Sun Studio items.
There aren’t a lot of places left that hold real significant music history, but Sun Studio is definitely one of them. I highly recommend taking this tour.
Sun Studio Tour – Hours & ticket prices
Unlike some other stuffy recording sites (Motown Museum, I’m looking at you), Sun Studio allows you to take pictures during the tour. Score!
You can take the tour daily from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm, every half hour. The tours go until 5:30 on Fridays and Saturdays.
As of 2023, the adult ticket price is only $15, and kids from 5-11 are charged $10. Leave your toddlers at home – kids under 5 are not permitted.
Tickets currently cannot be purchased online in advance. Everything is first-come, first-serve. So get there early if you really want to take this tour.
Parking is free at Sun Studio. The building is located at 706 Union Avenue. The studio is about one mile from Beale Street.
The Sun Studio Tour is about 45 minutes. Plan to stay 60-90 minutes to give yourself time to check out the gift shop and the rest of the space.
The studio used to give guests the chance to record their own song (a “karaoke recording”), but that is no longer offered.
For more info on Sun Studio, check out the official site.
Have you ever taken a tour in a legendary place like Sun Studio?