Memphis Music Hall of Fame Names New Class


Carl Perkins will be inducted to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

The Memphis Music Hall of Fame will induct the 2014 class comprised of Lil Hardin Armstrong, Al Bell, Big Star, John Fry, Furry Lewis, Chips Moman, Ann Peebles, Carl Perkins and Jesse Winchester.

At this fall’s induction ceremony, honorees will receive the Mike Curb Award, a locally hand-crafted trophy. They will join previous inductees including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Howlin’ Wolf, bringing the total number of inductees to 47.

A Memphis Music Hall of Fame museum is scheduled to open in early 2015 at 126 Beale Street. The building is being renovated as the new Hard Rock Cafe, scheduled to open July 3, and will also house a Lansky’s retail store. The site is the former location of Lansky Bros., a store known as “The Clothier to the King” for outfitting Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison.

2014 Memphis Music Hall of Fame Inductee Abbreviated Bios

Lil Hardin Armstrong—She may be most famous as the wife of Louis Armstrong, responsible for shaping his career, but Lil Hardin, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, raised in a boarding house near Beale, was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, bandleader, and considered by most to have been the most prominent woman in early jazz.

Al Bell—A former disc jockey from Little Rock, Arkansas, who ran and later owned Stax Records, where throughout the 70s he drove the Memphis Sound internationally and made Stax the second-largest African American owned business in the U.S. He was vital to the careers of Stax’s soul stars like The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave and others before becoming President of Motown Records Group and later forming his label, Bellmark Records.

Big Star – Original members Jody Stephens, Alex Chilton, Chris Bell and Andy Hummel… Rolling Stone Magazine credited Big Star with creating “a seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations” and defined them as “the quintessential American power pop band.” Big Star has been cited as an influence to such bands as R.E.M., Velvet Crush, The Replacements, and many more. In 2006, such bands as the Gin Blossoms, The Posies, Wilco and others came together to record the tribute album, “Big Star, Small World.” 

John Fry—What he started in a converted garage at his parent’s house became an industry-leading studio that has, for more than 40 years, produced some of the best music in modern history. John Fry is all things Ardent… studios, label, video production… that world-famous studio on Madison Avenue. Ardent has continued Memphis’ musical legacy… from early Stax recordings, and since a who’s who of modern music have come through Ardent… ZZ Top, John Prine, Joe Cocker, R.E.M., the Gin Blossoms, B.B. King, Travis Tritt, Bob Dylan, the White Stripes and hundreds more.

Walter “Furry” Lewis—Walter Lewis, nicknamed “Furry” by his childhood playmates, moved with his family to Memphis in 1900. He became a songwriter, a country blues guitarist, vocalist and humorist. Furry became one of the first pre-war blues musicians of the 1920s to be rediscovered by the folk-blues revival of the 1960s, brought out of retirement, and given a re-launched recording career, opening for The Rolling Stones, appearing on the big screen and drawing international acclaim to his distinctive blues sound.

Lincoln “Chips” Moman—During the late 60s and early 70s Lincoln “Chips” Moman’s American Sound Studio experienced an unprecedented run of hits in the music industry, producing more than 120 charting singles, including 40 gold records. On several occasions, more than 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 songs were produced at American Sound. Moman wrote or produced songs for Elvis Presley, including Suspicious Minds, In the Ghetto and more, Aretha Franklin, Petula Clark, Wilson Pickett, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Womack, B.J. Thomas, and many others. He produced the first hit for Satellite Records, the first single for Volt, and guided the career of The Box Tops.

Ann Peebles—A throwaway comment on a stormy night became a massive hit for our next inductee, the incomparable Ann Peebles. Husband Don Bryant snatched the phrase, wrote it into a song that night, and presented it to legendary Hi Record producer Willie Mitchell the next day. “I Can’t Stand the Rain” went on to be recorded or sampled by the likes of Missy Elliot, Tina Turner, and Seal, with John Lennon dubbed it “the best song ever.” Peebles continued to rack up 10 more R&B hits and her discography includes 15 albums.

Carl Perkins—In 1956, with his smash hit anthem “Blue Suede Shoes,” Carl Perkins virtually defined and established rockabilly music in the rock and roll cannon and helped launch Sun Records into national prominence. Carl Perkins is regarded as one of the founding fathers of rock-and-roll, and, of course, became a member of the legendary Million Dollar Quartet. Perkins influenced, among many others, John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, who said “If there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles.”

Jesse Winchester—Born in Shreveport but raised in Memphis, Winchester wrote some of the defining singer-songwriter tracks of the seventies,  like “Yankee Lady,” “Biloxi,” and “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” that ached with feelings of loss for the country he chose to leave in military protest.  His songs gained him a cult following. He was considered such a formidable songwriter that a 2012 tribute album featured versions of his songs by James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Vince Gill, among others.


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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