Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dewey Phillips: America's First Wildman DJ

Dewey Phillips was an American radio pioneer who helped define 1950’s rock radio. He brought black rhythm and blues music to white teenagers in Memphis two years before Alan Freed started doing the same in Cleveland. He brought rock ‘n’ roll to television a year before Dick Clark’s "American Bandstand." And while segregation was imposed on virtually every aspect of life in the streets at that time, “Daddy-O” Dewey gleefully integrated the airwaves.

It is a voice which has not been heard before and will likely not be heard again—a voice which changed the social landscape of Memphis and the musical landscape of the world. Indeed, one amazing achievement which can never be duplicated is Dewey's distinction of introducing the world to Elvis Presley. He was the first disc jockey to spin Elvis' cut of "That's All Right" which set off the Elvis phenomenon and undeniably changed the sound of music from that point forward.

Another of Dewey's innovations was the way he interacted with his audience. He constantly asked listeners to call in to his "Red, Hot & Blue" show to make requests and tell him what they thought of the records he was spinning. We want to continue that great tradition by asking you to rate the young artists performing as part of our Sun Studio Sessions program, so with each new video we'll ask you to send us your "Dewey" to help us know how you are enjoyuing these new artists performing for you in the very room where rock and roll was born.

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