Dewey and Elvis: The Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Deejay

Overview

Beginning in 1949, while Elvis Presley and Sun Records were still virtually unknown?and two full years before Alan Freed famously "discovered" rock 'n' roll?Dewey Phillips brought rock 'n' roll to the Memphis airwaves by playing Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters on his nightly radio show Red, Hot and Blue. The mid-South's most popular white deejay, "Daddy-O-Dewey" is part of rock 'n' roll history for being the first major disc jockey to play Elvis Presley (and subsequently to conduct the first live, ...

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Overview

Beginning in 1949, while Elvis Presley and Sun Records were still virtually unknown—and two full years before Alan Freed famously "discovered" rock 'n' roll—Dewey Phillips brought rock 'n' roll to the Memphis airwaves by playing Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters on his nightly radio show Red, Hot and Blue. The mid-South's most popular white deejay, "Daddy-O-Dewey" is part of rock 'n' roll history for being the first major disc jockey to play Elvis Presley (and subsequently to conduct the first live, on-air interview with Elvis). This book illustrates Phillips's role in turning a huge white audience on to previously forbidden race music. His zeal for rhythm and blues legitimized the sound and set the stage for both Elvis's subsequent success and the rock 'n' roll revolution of the 1950s. Using personal interviews, documentary sources, and the oral history collections at the Center for Southern Folklore and the University of Memphis, Louis Cantor presents a very personal view of the disc jockey while arguing for his place as an essential part of rock 'n' roll history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I could write a book about this book!. . . .This book is a MUST READ for all fans of blues and Rock-n-Roll history. It's my book of the year, beating out The Dylan Chronicles (a close second). Triple A+."—Holler

"Cantor's biography offers more than the story of an underappreciated disc jockey and his relationship to Elvis. Woven throughout the book is thoughtful, original, and illuminating research on the social history of race and how notions about racial identity and geographical space informed the ways in which the segregated white and black residents of Memphis interacted and were involved in one another's musical cultures and social spheres."—The Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252029813
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 5/4/2005
  • Series: Music in American Life Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis Cantor is professor emeritus of history at Indiana University. He now lives in Memphis, Tennessee, and is the author of Wheelin' on Beale: How WDIA-Memphis Became the Nation's First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound That Changed America, and A Prologue to the Protest Movement: The Missouri Sharecropper Roadside Demonstration of 1939, which was made into an award-winning documentary film. Cantor, who grew up in Memphis, went to Humes High School with Elvis Presley.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
1 Programmed Chaos: Dewey Phillips on the Air 7
2 Before the Storm: Dewey Arrives at the Five-and-Dime 30
3 The White Brother on Beale Street 45
4 The New Memphis Sound: The Birth of Black Programming 64
5 "What in the World Is That?" Is This Guy Black or White? 74
6 Racial Cross-Pollination: Black and White Together 87
7 The Great Convergence: Pop Tunes' One-Stop 96
8 The Phillips Boys: Soul (Better than Blood) Brothers 106
9 Red, Hot and Blue: The Hottest Cotton-Pickin' Thang in the Country 122
10 Dewey and Elvis: The Synthesized Sound 135
11 Dewey Introduces Elvis to the World 144
12 The King and His Court Jester: Men-Children in the Promised Land 159
13 "Red Hot at First... Blue at the Very End" 175
14 The Final Descent: "If Dewey Couldn't Be Number One, He Didn't Wanna Be" 193
15 "Goodbye, Good People" 207
16 The Legacy: The Next Generation and Beyond 222
Epilogue 231
Notes 235
Bibliography 265
Index 277
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