The Roots of Memphis Music Bollard Project at FedExForum illustrates the story behind Rocket 88

Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” is widely considered to be the first rock 'n' roll record, and it was recorded right here in Memphis. 

Credited to Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, “Rocket 88” — a song about cruising in a cool car and looking for a cute date — was recorded at Memphis' Sun Studio in 1951 by Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. 

In addition to the subject matter and driving beat of the song, one major element that qualifies its rock 'n' roll classification is the use of the first distorted guitar, which was the result of a blown-out amplifier cone. 


All points of interest below are mapped from the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, just steps from the bollards and FedExForum.

Drive 3 minutes

Sun Studio
Tour Sun Studio to see where Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm composed and recorded the number one hit. 
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Walk 10 feet

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
You’re standing just a few feet away from one of Memphis’ most comprehensive music history museums. Discover the stories behind the artists and songs that changed music forever, including Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88,” at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

WALK 4 minutes 

Ghost River Brewing Beale Street Tap Room
What better way to end a day of exploring Memphis music history than cracking the tab of a seasonal Rocket 88 Oatmeal Stout at the Ghost River tap room? 
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