OTTUMWA — On Dec. 4, 1956, an event happened that was musically historic beyond comprehension. A jam session started at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn., that featured Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
Tonight, this magical moment of music history will be relived at 7:30 p.m. at the Bridge View Center.
It seemed to have happened by pure chance. Perkins, who had already met success with “Blue Suede Shoes,” had come into the studios that day to cut some new material. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, brought in his latest acquisition, a singer and piano man extraordinaire named Jerry Lee Lewis. Sometime early that afternoon, Elvis Presley — formerly of Sun Artist but now with RCA — dropped in to pay a casual visit. Less than four months earlier, he had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, pulling an unheard of 83 percent of the TV audience, estimated at 55 million, the largest in history up to that time. He went out into the studio, and sometime later the jam session began. During the session, Johnny Cash, who had recently enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in.
"It was just a big jam session," said John Mueller, who portrays Carl Perkins in the show. "They just left the recording equipment on. What we have now is a real microcosm of musical history."
The audience will be witness to a rock-and-roll royalty jam session with the music and talent that has stood the test of time, combining rockabilly, country, gospel and pure 1950s rock and roll.
"We want people to walk away with a feeling of 'Wow, I didn't realize the songs they did.' There was a real sense of community and the chemistry of creating music right on the spot," Mueller said.
Tickets are still available at the Bridge View Center box office. For a preview, visit www.bridgeviewcenter.com/events/a-night-to-remember/