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Sam Phillips's Geni Profile

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Sam Cornelius Phillips

Birthplace: Florence, Lauderdale, Alabama, USA
Death: Died in Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, USA
Cause of death: respiratory failure
Place of Burial: Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, USA
Immediate Family:

Husband of Rebecca Irene Phillips
Father of <private> Phillips and <private> Phillips

Occupation: record producer
Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sam Phillips

Founder of Sun Studios and Sun Records

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Samuel Cornelius Phillips (January 5, 1923 – July 30, 2003), better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s. He was a producer, label owner, and talent scout throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He most notably founded Sun Studios and Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Through Sun, Phillips discovered such recording talent as Howlin' Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. The height of his success culminated in his launching of Elvis Presley's career in 1954. He is also associated with several other noteworthy rhythm and blues and rock and roll stars of the period. Phillips sold Sun in 1969. He was an early investor in the Holiday Inn chain of hotels. Birth: Jan. 5, 1923 Florence Lauderdale County Alabama

Death: Jul. 30, 2003

Rock pioneer. He was the founder of Sun Records and was credited with discovering Elvis Presley. He produced Presley's first record in 1954. He later sold Presley's recording contract to RCA for only $35,000. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. (bio by: Ron Moody)

Family links:

  • Rebecca Irene Burns Phillips (1925 - 2012)*

Burial: Memorial Park Cemetery Memphis Shelby County Tennessee, USA Plot: Mausoleum (outside) Garden of Trees - Tier C #29 Phillips was the youngest of eight children, born on a farm near Florence, Alabama to poor tenant farmers. As a child he picked cotton in the fields with his parents alongside black laborers. The experience of the workers singing in the fields left a big impression on the young Phillips. Travelling through Memphis with his family in 1939 on the way to see a preacher in Dallas, he slipped off to look at Beale Street, at the time the heart of the city's music scene. "I just fell totally in love," he later recalled.

Phillips attended the former Coffee High School in Florence. He conducted the school band and had ambitions to be a criminal defense attorney. However his father was bankrupted by the Great Depression and died in 1941, forcing Phillips to leave high school to look after his mother and aunt. To support the family Phillips worked in a grocery store and then a funeral parlor.

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Sam Phillips's Timeline

January 5, 1923
Florence, Lauderdale, Alabama, USA
July 30, 2003
Age 80
Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, USA
Sun Studios and Sun Records
Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, USA