Concert, play, history lesson

It was as if lightning struck Sun Records four times in the 1950s — the little Memphis record label was behind Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

From left: Johnny Cash (Jim Yorfido)

From left: Johnny Cash (Jim Yorfido)

It was as if lightning struck Sun Records four times in the 1950s — the little Memphis record label was behind Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Those heady days at the start of rock ’n’ roll, are recreated in the stage show Good Rockin’ Tonight, The Sun Records Story, which stops on Tuesday at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.

Good Rockin’ is part play, part concert and part history lesson, said Bill Culp, who co-wrote the stage show with Dave Tufford three years ago, and likens it to the musical biography Jersey Boys about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

The Sun Records show is about a magical era that still resonates with musicians and their audience, said Culp, who’s from the Niagara region of Ontario.

“The music was timeless, without a doubt.

“And the musicians at the centre of it were originals who were true to themselves,” he said.

“They had authenticity and they weren’t contrived — they were real artists.”

Culp plays Perkins in the family-friendly musical, while Tufford portrays Lewis, Djino LeFrancois is Presley, Jim Yorfido depicts Cash and Kevin Jollimore plays Sun Records producer Sam Phillips.

Much research went into getting to the truth of what happened at the start of these four famed artists’ careers, said Culp.

For instance, the show portrays why Presley became a household name singing Blue Suede Shoes — a song that Perkins wrote and actually recorded first.

“In 1956, Carl had Blue Suede Shoes and Elvis had Heartbreak Hotel,” said Culp. Both singers were scheduled to make television appearances to break the songs out to the masses, but Perkins never made it due to an unforeseen circumstance revealed in the musical.

Elvis ended up covering the song and the rest is history.

Rather than begrudging Presley’s stellar success, Culp said Perkins always maintained that losing the hit to the swivel-hipped superstar was the best thing that ever happened to him.

He became rich from residuals from Presley’s album sales, gaining the wealth but not the drawbacks of fame.

The story of the Sun Records artists will be told in two acts.

The first recounts how Phillips helped shape the four performers’ styles at the start of their careers, while the second is a recreation of the musicians’ appearance on the Louisiana Hayride radio show in the mid-’50s.

“The second act is more like a concert, with some radio commercials, and more interaction from the audience,” said Culp.

Good Rockin’ Tonight is on at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

A FedEx worker loads the 255,600 doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine which came from Europe into a freezer trailer to be transported during the COVID-19 pandemic at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will… Continue reading

Energy Minister Sonya Savage speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A committee that is supposed to consult Albertans on coal development in the Rocky Mountains won't be able to ask questions about water or land use. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Brittany Lausen, RDC Students’ Association president. (Advocate file photo).
RDC Students’ Association takes aim at ‘period poverty’ in Red Deer

Vulnerable clients of several non-profits can access free hygiene products

A voter is shown at a Whitehorse polling station during the Yukon election on Monday April 12, 2021. An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon election, pushing the process to the next step of a judicial recount. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Official count confirms tie in Yukon election, application filed for judicial recount

WHITEHORSE — An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Students in Alberta town ready to return to school after quarantining

ATHABASCA, Alta. — A superintendent of schools in northern Alberta says the… Continue reading

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Tilray products such as capsules, oils, and dried marijuana are displayed at their head office in Nanaimo, B.C., on November 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Vote by Tilray shareholders on Aphria merger deal delayed until April 30

NANAIMO, B.C. — A vote by Tilray Inc. shareholders on the cannabis… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his mask as Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson answers a reporter's question during an announcement on the government's updated climate change plan in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Wilkinson urges opposition leaders to stop stalling net-zero carbon emissions bill

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is urging opposition leaders to end… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Biden’s words have no meaning

“If they go, we’ll all have to go. That’s the reality of… Continue reading

opinion
Shadow pandemic: Domestic violence has risen worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a devastating mark on communities across the… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs expected to toe the party line

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with my MLA… Continue reading

Most Read