Legendary rock’n’roll session recreated as hit musical Million Dollar Quartet hits Lowestoft
- Credit: Submitted
Peter Duncan plays legendary record producer Sam Phillips in show about only time Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins played together at Sun Records in Memphis.
It is a date that is etched in rock'n'roll history. On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins jammed together in Sun Records Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.
This jam session spawned a new era in music but it happened by chance. At the time, Carl Perkins had already had a hit record with Blue Suede Shoes, and was visiting the recording studio to record some new songs. Sam Phillips, who owned Sun Records, introduced Perkins to Jerry Lee Lewis who would be playing piano for the songs Perkins was recording. Later on in the afternoon, world famous Elvis Presley entered, and Johnny Cash would join in soon after.
It was a meeting that has been dubbed the 'Million Dollar Quartet' and following its success in the West End, Las Vegas and on Broadway, the hit musical based on the story is at Lowestoft Marina Theatre next week.
Former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, whose TV, film and theatre career spans four decades, heads the cast playing the part of legendary record producer Sam Phillips.
Brought to life by writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, the show includes more than 20 all-time rock'n'roll classics, including Real Wild Child, Memories are Made of This, Fever, Hound Dog, Walk the Line, Matchbox, Folsom Prison Blues and Blue Suede Shoes.
The cast also includes Matt Wycliffe as Carl Perkins, Robbie Durham playing Johnny Cash, Ross William Wild in the role of Elvis and Ashley Carruthers as Jerry Lee Lewis.
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'This is music that I love, so it's a joy to be doing this show,' said Ashley, who is making his musical debut. 'I've always listened to Jerry Lee Lewis' music ever since I was a kid. I love his approach to music and performing, not necessarily life. To prepare I've been playing the music of Jerry Lee, Little Richard, the heavy piano players of that era, and watching every video I can. Of course, Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin' are my favourites to play.'
Matt Wycliffe who studied the guitar playing of Carl Perkins before taking on the role, added: 'I've played a few other rock'n'roll heroes in my career so it is great to be able to play another one, particularly as I get the play all the solos.
'Being able to play this music, live on stage with a bunch of really good musicians is one of the great parts off the show and out is a lot of fun every single night.
'This role involved really getting back to the roots of Carl Perkins. I've got a lot of footage of him playing and I want to make sure I get all the guitar parts note for note authentic. If you like 1950s rock'n'roll then you are going to hear some of the greatest songs played live.'
The show's director Ian Talbot said the appeal of the show was the lasting legacy of the music.
'I think the fact that the music has lasted for so long is because it makes everybody happy,' he said. 'People talk about this being one of iconic periods in music history and that got me excited in it.
'I think it is a joyous show. It's both a concert and a play. I think it is informative of its era, but it also gets people up on their feet.'
• Million Dollar Quartet, Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, April 4-8, 7.30pm, 2.30pm April 5/8, £33-£18.50 (£28-£25 cons), 01502 533200, www.marinatheatre.co.uk