"Hold On, I'm Coming," "Cry Me a River," "Behind Closed Doors," "Have Guitar, Will Travel," "Grinder Man Blues," "Green Onions," "Two Cigarettes in the Dark." What do all these iconic songs have in common? They were all written/recorded by Memphis folk, amazing artists who rode the charts, started trends in popular music, or just flat-out rocked like no other. These song titles belong to the likes of Sam & Dave, Justin Timberlake, Charlie Rich, Scotty Moore, Memphis Slim, Al Jackson, Jr., and Alberta Hunter, all pioneers of their respective genres, all distinctly Memphis-made musicians who left their mark (or are still leaving it) on the music world.
Yes, it's safe to say that Memphis is home to some of the greatest to ever take the stage, and now, thanks to a new location for the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, these groundbreaking artists will be remembered forever. Saturday's festivities at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts will center around top-notch musical performances and tributes, with honorees Justin Timberlake, Sam Moore and Scotty Moore all scheduled to appear. This year's honorees join the 47 previous inductees including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Big Star, Carl Perkins, Sam Phillips, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf, and other world-changing musicians, bringing the total number of Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductees to 54. The induction ceremony will be produced by Royal Studios' Boo Mitchell, and Mitchell will bring back the Hi Rhythm Section to serve as house band for the evening.
Let's start with the obvious. In the world of local heroes, Justin Timberlake is unrivaled. The boy-band-member-turned-pop-icon is one of the most successful musicians to ever come out of Memphis, and his collection of nine Grammy Awards and four Emmy Awards make him the "headliner" of Saturday's ceremony. Timberlake has kept Memphis music on the popular music map like no other current musician, and quite frankly his induction is long overdue.
Charlie Rich started out as a Sun Records session player, recording songs with Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis before embarking on his own successful career in country music. Rich reached No. 1 on the country charts with hits like "Behind Closed Doors," and "The Most Beautiful Girl," but the singer also borrowed a little something from many genres, and his songs included elements of jazz, rockabilly, soul, and blues. Rich passed away in 1995, but thanks to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, his music will be once again celebrated, 20 years after his death.
Samuel Moore and Dave Prater (known simply as Sam & Dave) are widely regarded as the greatest soul duo of all time, mostly thanks to their domination of the music charts during their time working together. The duo produced 10 consecutive Top 20 singles and three consecutive Top 10 LPs, and the pair was instrumental in bringing soul music to white audiences. Prater passed away in 1988, but Moore is scheduled to appear on Saturday night.
Memphis Slim has been covered by everyone from Ray Charles to Jimi Hendrix, and his music from the '40s and '50s went on to become blues standards. Slim passed away in 1988, but his legacy lives on at the Stax-affiliated Memphis Slim House, a place for Memphis musicians of all kinds to learn, collaborate, and hone their craft.
Getting his start as Elvis Presley's session guitarist, Scotty Moore helped define the era of rock-and-roll that put Memphis on the map. Imitated by many but duplicated by none, Moore is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Moore also cracked the Top 30 of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists and provided an intimate look at Elvis Presley with his book That's Alright, Elvis: The Untold Story of Elvis's First Guitarist and Manager.
Alberta Hunter and Al Jackson, Jr. round out Saturday's list of honorees. Hunter is already a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, and her classic song "Downhearted Blues" was included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2002. Jackson, Jr. is best-known as the timekeeper in Booker T. and the MG's, but he also performed as a session drummer for Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, and Al Green, among others.