This holiday season is a perfect time for a little road trip – to see loved ones, friends, or just get out there and explore the world.
We’ve put together a visual tour of 10 music-related locations that are sure to make any winter break rock just a little bit harder.
Opened in 1950 by a local radio station engineer named Sam Phillips, some of the most legendary moments in rock-and-roll history were captured at this tiny Memphis studio, and many artifacts from over the years remain here today in this living music museum—including Elvis Presley’s microphone and Johnny Cash’s dollar-strung guitar.
Phillips started Sun Records in 1952; two years later, a nervous local teenager came in to lay down a few vocal tracks. The date was July 5, 1954. “It was just an audition,” remembers Scotty Moore, the country guitarist brought in to back up a green Elvis Presley for his Sun Records tryout. Near the end of the day, Presley broke into an obscure blues tune, That’s All Right, and history was made.
Eventually, Phillips sold his discovery’s contract to R.C.A. for $40,000, a huge sum at the time. A few years before Elvis, a local D.J. named Ike Turner produced a session at Sun with teenager Jackie Brenston. Their 1951 version of Rocket 88 is considered by many to be the first genuine rock-and-roll record. And don’t forget that Jerry Lee Lewis recorded Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On at Sun. Tours are given on a daily basis.
Just a couple of the exhibits this remarkable museum dedicated to music, Sci-Fi and pop culture has featured:
Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London
Featuring lyrics, personal instruments, original photographs, outrageous outfits, and rare concert footage, Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London celebrates the iconic musician’s 70th birthday by inviting viewers to discover how Hendrix achieved prominence across the pond.
Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses
Featuring more than 200 iconic instruments, original poster artwork, photographs, albums, and 100 new and archived oral histories from key figures in the independent music scene, Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses introduces the world’s most extensive exhibition of memorabilia celebrating the music and history of Seattle grunge luminaries, Nirvana.
They also have one of the most famous guitars in history, the white Fender Stratocaster played August 18, 1969, at the Woodstock Festival in upstate Bethel, New York. The guitar was sold at Sotheby’s auction house in London in 1990 to an Italian collector, but a few years later, Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen discovered the whereabouts of the guitar and bought it from the collector.
The guitar is now owned by Paul Allen who placed it at EMP, where you’ll also experience over 80,000 other rock and roll artifacts, including early electric guitars, costumes, and hand-written lyric sheets.