Sam Phillips Exhibit Shows How Icon Influenced Country Music


Country music’s biggest night is just days away.

You can watch the CMA awards on ABC this Wednesday night, November 4th.

Our very own Tish Clark will be reporting live from Nashville all day. 

But now, Tish talks about how musical icon Sam Phillips has influenced the sounds of country music.

“One of Sam’s philosophies in the studio was allowing people to be themselves,” nephew Jud Phillips said.

We begin this story in Memphis. Around the corner from Sun Studios is Sam Phillips Recording Service. An old run down recording studio is a reminder of the great things have happened and continue to happen here. A place where melodies are made and records are recorded.

“Country music, per say, was structured by the record company and the producers. Sam allowed some talented people to express themselves,” Phillips said.

The country music hall of fame and museum in Nashville displays biographical exhibitions on hall of fame members. The Sam Philips exhibit opened in August.

“We wanted to show Sam’s whole life…not just the Sun Records period,” co-curator Michael Gray said.

“It’s about country music… but it’s also very much about Sam as a person,” Phillips said.

From his childhood in Alabama to his music career in Tennessee, it is truly a tell-all display.

“We found so many things we didn’t even know we had,” Phillips said.

The exhibit portrays periods of Philips life that many people didn’t even know about. Like when Philips started WHER radio in 1955. An all-women’s radio station where his wife was a DJ.

This is just a sample of what visitors will see and hear about how Sam Phillips moved music from Memphis to Nashville and beyond.

“Some of it was actually junk…but there were some gems,” Phillips said.

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