The Million Dollar Quartet; no, it's not another boy band - well, at least not exactly. How about a Man Band of such huge proportions that a musical has been made to tell the story? A story of happenstance, serendipity, fortuitousness... fate? It happened on a winter's day in 1956, in Memphis, Tennessee, at a little recording studio which had been repurposed from a little roadside auto shop, and was founded by Mr. Sam Phillips.This unintentionally spectacular Tuesday night began one December about three weeks before Christmas when four legends; Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and the king himself, Elvis Presley just happened to all gather at Sun Records studio.
All four of the men had begun their musical careers with Sun and of course, by this time Elvis Presley was a worldwide phenomenon - and had moved on to RCA records, after recording the song "Blue Suede Shoes", a song Carl Perkins wrote and had planned on recording himself, when on the way to perform on TV in NYC, he and his band were injured in an auto accident, leaving Phillips to pass the song on to Elvis, a record that sold 1 million copies, making the country, pop and rhythm and blues stations, not to mention history. With that hit went Perkins' dream of matching Presley's success.
Anyhow, on this night, the studio was recording Perkins' single, "Matchbox" when the now famous Presley returned to the tiny studio to check out Perkins' new tune and hang out with his friends. Jerry Lee Lewis was at this time still an unknown, having just released his record, "Crazy Arms" and was making a little extra change playing backup on Perkins' new song. Soon three guys became four when Phillips called Johnny Cash's house to invite him to join the little impromptu reunion.
Soon, word had leaked out about this unplanned jam session and a newspaper man, who came by to check it out, wrote, "This quartet could sell a million." And there it was. The one and only session of the "Million Dollar Quartet." What would you give to have been there? I know, right?
Now, here is where it gets interesting - though the four never got together again in this capacity, a fantastical story was born, some people calling it an urban legend, believing this could never have happened in real life. But it did happen indeed - and it's happening again, in the form of a musical with what I'm going to call the "best-matched cast ever to star in a musical production." There it is, I said it.
So, after seeing this incredible musical on Tuesday night, I was most definitely more than a bit star-struck when I was so very honored to get to speak to these incredible four actors/musicians/entertainers at the new Johnny Cash Museum on Second Ave. right here in downtown Nashville. I also got to take several photos. Just keep scrolling for my interview and the pics. And please, please see this show at TPAC, it's playing through the 11th, and really should have been booked for a month here in Music City.
I mean, really ... go see it this weekend. Just as a hint to how good this production is, imagine hearing all these songs played by this impromptu quartet that night: "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "That's All Right," "Sixteen Tons," "Great Balls of Fire," "Walk the Line," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Who Do You Love?," "Matchbox," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Hound Dog" and more. Then imagine hearing all their talk; disagreements, bitterness, fame, success, plans, even a bit of gossip and fear of failure - and know that this show is the next best thing to having witness this night in musical history yourself.