The heart of rock and roll


As I’m going to visit Graceland today, the most famous private residence in rock and roll, if not all of America, I’ll be looking for hints of Dewey Phillips.

Most people have no idea of who Dewey Phillips was, and I wouldn’t either if I hadn’t seen the Broadway show “Memphis.” Dewey’s life story was loosely told in the musical, but the name “Elvis” was not to be heard, because, well, the Presley name is trademarked and backed by lots of litigious people, I would imagine. But Phillips was the first DJ to play an Elvis record, back in 1954, and I want someone at Graceland to acknowledge that.

If I can find Crump cemetery here in Memphis, perhaps I’ll go and pay my respects. It seems, from what I’ve read, that Phillips had his personal demons, as many people do. But since, as Jackie Robinson said, a life is only important in the impact that it has on other people, then my life–in terms of the music that I listen to–owes a lot to Dewey Phillips. I may as well recognize this fact.

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