CMT

Get Ready for CMT’s Sun Records

Baylee Less | February, 2017

​We’ve heard the story of Sun Studio, Elvis Presley and the rise of rock ’n’ roll from countless angles and lenses. But his February, Country Music Television (CMT) will recreate this world in a fresh, exciting way with their new show “Sun Records”. They’re calling it “the untold story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.” 

Filmed in Memphis, this eight-part television series brings the viewer back to the struggles, highlights and energy of the 1950’s musical revolution. It’s a mix of drama, history, and music featuring strong acting performances in locations that many Memphians will recognize. 

“Sun Records” showcases how Sun Records owner Sam Phillips attempts to build a musical empire from the ground up. We watch as Phillips, played by Chad Michael Murray, learns to balance his passion for music with business troubles, personal life and the racial turmoil and social unrest of the period. 

Rather than focus solely on Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash as other recent motion pictures have done, “Sun Records” tells a wider story with more of the essential characters of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Look for appearances from actors portraying Ike Turner, Muddy Waters, B.B. King. and others. 

Drake Mulligan plays a young Elvis Presley, with Kevin Fonteyne as a sultry Johnny Cash, Christian Lees as an energetic Lewis, and Dustin Ingram as Carl Perkins. Other cast members include Jonah Lees as Jimmy Swaggart, Margaret Anne Florence as Marion Keisker, and famous blues singer Castro Coleman as the iconic B.B. King.

The show is set to air on Thursday, February 23rd 9 p.m. CST on CMT. and subsequent Thursdays at the same time.

Click here for a map of all the locations

If you want to see “Sun Records” come to life, head to Memphis to visit some of the exact locations where scenes from the program were filmed. Here’s a checklist for you:

A Schwab Trading Co. - Not only is A. Schwab the only original remaining business on Beale St., it is now one of the filming locations for “Sun Records.” Stop in the eclectic shop, and find honestly … anything! They always say at A. Schwab’s “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you’re better off without it.” The soda fountain is featured in the television show, so don’t forget to grab a milkshake from there. Location: 163 Beale St.

The Arcade Restaurant - Already famous for their fluffy sweet potato pancakes, the Arcade Restaurant has served up deliciousness since 1919. Celebrities, natives, and tourists alike have all sat in the retro diner to enjoy some of the best home cooking Memphis has to offer. In “Sun Records”: The Arcade is the diner where Elvis goes to visit his crush, Trixie.

Lucero visits Sun Studio
A. Schwab, The Arcade, The Peabody Hotel, Sun Studio

Bon Ton Café - Although Bon Ton Cafe now specializes in private events and catering, the hip Memphis venue is still a delight to visit for an exterior photo op. Bon Ton, literally meaning ‘good tone,’ is indicative of the Southern charm and quiet nature of this historic gem. In “Sun Records”, Bon Ton Cafe is portrayed as a popular watering hole where characters can let loose.

Dyer’s on Beale - Any Memphian knows for a mouth-watering burger, you can always rely on Dyer’s. The restaurant claims the secret is in their “special” grease; either way it’s working because Dyer’s has served juicy burgers since 1912. In “Sun Records”, Dyer’s is the diner on Beale Street that “contributes” to rock ‘n’ roll in a unique way.

Earnestine and Hazel’s - Another highlight of the South Main Arts District, Earnestine and Hazel’s blends together all our favorite aspects of a juke joint including soul music, soul burgers, and a slow game of pool. It’s pretty much the same kind of place in “Sun Records”. The atmosphere doesn’t come alive until the later hours, but definitely worth a stop. Location: 531 S. Main St.

ECCO Restaurant - ECCO is a tucked away restaurant and a great spot for brunch, lunch, or a date night. They have an excellent wine list, all the food is fresh and scrumptious, and it sits only a short walk from Overton Park. In “Sun Records” Ecco is used as the set for Kat’s Drugstore. 

The Peabody Hotel - The South’s Grand Hotel boasts an grandiose lobby, the Peabody Ducks, and a service. In “Sun Records”, the Peabody’s lobby serves as a meeting place for important characters. The tea sets pictured in the show are the same used daily at the Peabody.

Sun Studio - While the TV show did not use the actual Sun Studio location for Sun Records/Memphis Recording Studio (they filmed that elsewhere in Memphis) you can tour the original location

This is only a few of the many Memphis filming locations. For more, check out the I Love Memphis Blog’s take on “Sun Records”.

“Sun Records” is sure to satisfy anyone’s craving for some 1950’s magic, and filming in Memphis will bring an energy to the story that’s simply remarkable.