Close this search box.

How did Sun Records discovery Elvis

Now, 70 years after Elvis Presley first stepped into Sun Studio (a.k.a. Memphis Recording Service) for the first time, a startling new revelation has come to light that will blow the minds of every Elvis fan around the world! For years, there has been a longstanding debate of who deserves the credit for discovering Elvis Presley, back in 1954: Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records and Presley’s record producer, or Marion Keisker, Sam’s assistant at the studio.
While doing research for her 2023 book, Fact versus Fiction in the 2022 Elvis Movie, author Trina Young came across a surprising and shocking fact, that has been overlooked for decades by Elvis historians.
In researching Presley’s early years, she acquired a copy of the 1956 magazine called Elvis Presley Speaks! It is a 66-page magazine, entirely filled with exclusive photos and stories about Elvis. It was written by reporter Robert Johnson, who worked for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. He did an extensive interview with Elvis for this magazine, and had photographer, Robert Williams, follow Elvis around his hometown of Memphis, during the summer of 1956.
The magazine was released on August 9, 1956, and almost immediately sold out of its first printing. It was an unfiltered look at Elvis, right when he was on the verge of becoming a superstar. In the magazine, there were some great photos of Elvis at his home on Audubon Drive in Memphis, and pictures with his Memphis girlfriend, Barbara Hearn. There was also a photo of Elvis attending the African-American night at the Memphis fairgrounds — an event in which the consequences of Presley’s attendance were falsely overexaggerated in the 2022 ELVIS Movie.
But stop the presses! Right in plain sight on pages 8 and 9 was a shocking revelation! Elvis Presley Speaks! mentioned yet another person who may have had a hand in Presley’s fate.
The first time Elvis came to the Memphis Recording Service (Sun Studio) to record, it just so happens that a sailor and his mother were in the studio at the same time. As she was sitting in the reception area and heard Elvis recording his two songs, the sailor’s mother said this:
This random eyewitness to Elvis Presley’s first personal recording session would make a huge difference in his life 12 months later.
It is true that Marion was the one who first recorded 18-year-old Elvis. In July 1953, Presley, who had just graduated high school a month earlier, came in on his own and paid to make two recordings of the ballads “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”. He also asked Marion if they were looking to hire a singer. Marion made a note for her files with Presley’s phone number that said: “Elvis Presley – good ballad singer. Save this.”
Six months later, Elvis came to the studio again and paid to record two more songs in January 1954. The songs were “It Wouldn’t Be the Same Without You” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way.” This time Sam Phillips was there (not Marion) and ironically made the same note to himself: “Elvis Presley – good ballad singer. Save this.”
Finally in June 1954, Phillips had listened to the demo of a new ballad called “Without You.” He wanted to release the song but couldn’t find who the original singer on the demo was. The story goes that Marion urged Sam to consider Elvis.
owever, Robert Johnson reported in the Elvis Presley Speaks! magazine that both Marion and Sam had forgotten about Elvis by June 1954 when they were looking for a singer to record “Without You”:
“Despite their good intentions and their ‘save-it’ notes filed away, Elvis didn’t enter their minds, as they mulled over possibilities. Then, just by chance, Mrs. Keisker bumped on the street into the sailor’s mother, who had been present and remarked how sweetly Elvis sang so many months ago.
“Whatever happened to that boy?” the sailor’s mother asked Mrs. Keisker.
Mrs. Keisker went back to the studio and asked Phillips, “Remember Elvis Presley?”
“Yeah,” said Sam, musing. “Yes, indeed, get him on the phone.”
On June 26, 1954, Elvis came in to record the song. Even with Elvis’s experience of recording four ballads previously at the studio on his own, Phillips was not happy with Presley’s rendition of the song. However, Sam decided to give Elvis another try asking guitarist Scotty Moore to see what he thought of Elvis. With Scotty’s approval, Elvis was then called in again to the studio on July 5, 1954 to have another audition, which is when Elvis Presley’s first single, “That’s All Right” was recorded.
Surprisingly, after all these years, perhaps the most significant catalyst in Elvis Presley’s story has finally been revealed. A seemingly insignificant detail that either has been overlooked or omitted by previous historians has now come to light.
No one knows the sailor’s mother’s name or what

she looked like. But maybe after all is said and done, the sailor’s mom, whose identity is forever lost in history, should get the accolades for discovering Elvis.
As Robert Johnson wrote in 1956: “To her [the sailor’s mom], Elvis owes a lasting debt of gratitude.”
Could this shocking story be true? There’s no reason to believe that reporter Robert Johnson (pictured on left), who was friends with Elvis, would have made this up. Marion Keisker would have been the one who told him this story. It is definitely feasible that this happened since it was common for other people to be in the waiting room at Sun Studio.
As author Peter Guralnick wrote: “Sometimes the reception area was jammed with people waiting to make a record.”
We’ll never know why Marion left out the details about the sailor’s mom from her future accounts of Elvis being discovered at Sun Records. Now we know that it was not just one woman, but two, who played a vital role in helping Elvis Presley start his career.
For more fascinating facts about Elvis, pick up one of Trina Young’s four books, including her latest, Fact vs. Fiction in the 2022 ELVIS movie. It’s available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon in 15 countries.

Recent Posts
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Stay in the loop