The Gotta Have Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction Winter 2021
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The most important piano in rock and roll history!

Offered here for the first time ever, is the iconic “Million Dollar Quartet Piano” - the Sun Records’ studio piano - a vintage 1949 Wurlitzer spinet with serial number 387912 that was played by a stellar rock and roll list of “who’s who” including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Charlie Rich and many more. The piano has a rock and roll jukebox list of credits and is featured on many of Memphis’ 1950’s Sun Records classics.

The late, great Sam Phillips, owner of the Memphis Recording Service, (the Sun Studio), and Sun Records purchased the piano in 1950 at the O.K. Houck piano store, located at 121 Union Avenue – the same street as his Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records. O.K. Houck is the same store where Elvis Presley and his family bought their first piano, his first Martin guitar. Scotty Moore bought his Gibson ES-295 played on the Elvis Sun Sessions, as well as Bill Black, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and many others who bought their instruments at the famed store.

Elvis played the piano on the “Million Dollar Quartet Session” in December of 1956 with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins – with Elvis playing piano on a majority of the 46 songs including, “Love Me Tender”, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Paralyzed.” Jerry Lee Lewis played it on 5 of the Million Dollar Quartet songs including “End of the Road” and “Crazy Arms”. The 1956 session was released by Sony BMG in 1990 – “The Million Dollar Quartet” – with 46 songs. This is the only piano played by both Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee Lewis also played it on his biggest hits, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, and all of the songs he recorded at Sun Records.

Ike Turner played the piano on the Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats song “Rocket 88”, the first number one hit that Sam Phillips recorded, released on Chess Records in 1951. The piano was played by Phineas Newborn, Jr. on the 1951 B.B. King hit “She’s Dynamite” and it was played on 14 Howlin’ Wolf songs recorded in 1951-52. It was played by Roscoe Gordon in his first hit songs known for his style of piano playing – “The Roscoe Rhythm.”

After residing at the Phillips’ Memphis Recording Studio from 1950 to 1960, the piano moved around the corner when Phillips relocated his studio to 639 Madison Avenue, renaming it the Sam Phillips Recording Services. The studio is still family owned and has been active in recording and mixing music since that time.

Sam Phillips then moved the piano to his home in 1961 where it resided for approximately 35 years. On many occasions Jerry Lee Lewis would stop by the house and play the piano, and Elvis would as well. The piano remained on the premises until Phillips loaned it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it opened in 1995. The piano was on exhibit at the Hall for 22 years until 2017 when it was moved to Graceland for the Sam Phillips exhibit “Mystery Train”, and it has been on exhibit at Graceland since then. The role that Sam Phillips played in the birth of Rock and Roll cannot be emphasized enough.

IIt was 67 years ago this summer, on July 6, 1954, that radio listeners in Memphis first heard Elvis Presley sing, “That’s All Right”. The landmark rock and roll song was recorded two days earlier at Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Service – the home of Sun Records. Phillips produced the song introducing the world to the art form we now call, “Rock and Roll”.

According to Peter Guralnick in his biography, “Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll” – “Sam Phillips created a legacy comparable to no other, really providing the stylistic bedrock not just for rock ‘n roll, but for much of contemporary blues as well”.

The 1949 Wurlitzer piano was more than just “instrumental” during that decade (1950 -60) – the piano was the main sound of some of Sun Records most recognized and greatest recordings.

The Sam Phillips family has taken a great deal of pride in supporting museums, TV producers, writers and film companies. Their goal is for the iconic piano to become part of a permanent American museum collection and remain with the public. Comes with the Jerry Phillips Letter of Authenticity, the condition report, the press release, and a Gotta Have Rock & Roll Certificate of Authenticity.
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