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

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

by Louis Cantor
Pub. Date:
University of Illinois Press


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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252077326
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 04/10/2010
Series: Music in American Life Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 287
Sales rank: 1,355,899
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

1Programmed Chaos: Dewey Phillips on the Air7
2Before the Storm: Dewey Arrives at the Five-and-Dime30
3The White Brother on Beale Street45
4The New Memphis Sound: The Birth of Black Programming64
5"What in the World Is That?" Is This Guy Black or White?74
6Racial Cross-Pollination: Black and White Together87
7The Great Convergence: Pop Tunes' One-Stop96
8The Phillips Boys: Soul (Better than Blood) Brothers106
9Red, Hot and Blue: The Hottest Cotton-Pickin' Thang in the Country122
10Dewey and Elvis: The Synthesized Sound135
11Dewey Introduces Elvis to the World144
12The King and His Court Jester: Men-Children in the Promised Land159
13"Red Hot at First... Blue at the Very End"175
14The Final Descent: "If Dewey Couldn't Be Number One, He Didn't Wanna Be"193
15"Goodbye, Good People"207
16The Legacy: The Next Generation and Beyond222

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