The Hillman Musical Odyssey
Recording Session

Elvis Presley (piano/guitar) ~ Jerry Lee Lewis (piano) ~ Carl Perkins (guitar) ~ Johnny Cash
Tracks, Writers and Duration:  Wikipedia
Audio Tracks: YouTube
Text: Sun
The Million Dollar Quartet is the name given to recordings made on 
Tuesday December 4, 1956 in the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee

The recordings were of an impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. The jam session seems to have happened by pure chance. Perkins, who by this time had already met success with “Blue Suede Shoes,” had come into the studios that day, accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay and by drummer W.S. Holland, their aim being to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, “Matchbox.” Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who wished to try to fatten this sparse rockabilly instrumentation, had brought in his latest acquisition, singer and piano man extraordinaire, Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play the piano on the Perkins session.

Sometime in the early afternoon, Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist himself, but now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans. He was, at the time, the biggest name in show business, having hit the top of the singles charts five times, and topping the album charts twice in the preceding 12 month period. Less than four months earlier, he had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, pulling an unheard-of 83% of the television audience, which was estimated at 55 million, the largest in history, up to that time. 

After chatting with Philips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of the Perkins’ session, which he pronounced to be good. Then he went into the studio and some time later the jam session began. Phillips left the tapes running in order to “capture the moment” as a souvenir and for posterity. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had also enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in (Cash noted in his autobiography Cash that it was he who was the first to arrive at Sun Studio that day). As Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano, Elvis and his girlfriend at some point slipped out. Cash claims in Cash that “no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis.”

The following day, an article, written by Memphis newspaperman Bob Johnson about the session, was published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title, “Million Dollar Quartet.” The article contained the now well known photograph of Elvis Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

   1. "Instrumental" (Unknown) - 1:44
   2. "Love Me Tender - Instrumental" (Presley/Matson) - 1:02
   3. "Jingle Bells - Instrumental" (James Lord Pierpont) – 1:57
   4. "White Christmas - Instrumental" (Berlin) - 2:05
   5. "Reconsider Baby" (Fulsom) - 2:45        ELVIS
   6. "Don't Be Cruel" (Presley/Blackwell) - 2:20        ELVIS
   7. "Don't Be Cruel" (Presley/Blackwell) - 2:20
   8. "Paralyzed" (Presley/Blackwell) - 3:00        ELVIS
   9. "Don't Be Cruel" (Presley/Blackwell) - 0:36
  10. "There's No Place Like Home" (Payne/Bishop) - 3:36        ELVIS
  11. "When The Saints Go Marchin´ In" (Traditional) - 2:18
  12. "Softly And Tenderly" (Traditional) - 2:42
  13. "When God Dips His Love In My Heart" (Traditional) - 0:23
  14. "Just A Little Talk With Jesus" (Derricks) - 4:09
  15. "Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley" (Traditional) - 3:28         JERRY LEE/ELVIS et al
  16. "I Shall Not Be Moved" (Traditional) - 3:49        ELVIS  et al
  17. "Peace In The Valley" (Dorsey) - 1:33
  18. "Down By the Riverside" (Traditional) - 2:26
  19. "I'm With A Crowd But So Alone" (Tubb/Story) - 1:16        ELVIS (as Ernest Tubb)
  20. "Farther Along" (Traditional) - 2:08
  21. "Blessed Jesus (Hold My Hand)" (Traditional) - 1:26
  22. "On The Jericho Road" (Traditional) - 0:52        ELVIS/JERRY LEE
  23. "I Just Can't Make It By Myself" (Brewster) - 1:04
  24. "Little Cabin Home On The Hill" (Bill Monroe/Lester Flatt) - 0:46  ELVIS
  25. "Summertime Is Past And Gone" (Monroe) - 0:14            ELVIS
  26. "I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling" (Monroe) - 0:36          ELVIS
  27. "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" (Monroe) - 0:28
  28. "Keeper Of The Key" (Stewart/Howard/Devine/Guynes) - 2:08          CARL
  29. "Crazy Arms" (Mooney/Seals) - 0:17
  30. "Don't Forbid Me" (Singleton) - 1:19         ELVIS 
  31. "Too Much Monkey Business" (Berry) - 0:05 
  32. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (Berry) - 1:14
  33. "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" (Hunter/Otis) - 0:37
  34. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (Berry) - 1:53        JERRY LEE / ELVIS
  35. "Don't Forbid Me" (Singleton) - 0:50
  36. "You Belong To My Heart" (Gilbert/Lara) - 1:10
  37. "Is It So Strange" (Young) - 1:21
  38. "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" (Hill/Fisher/Raskin) - 4:58
  39. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" (Berry) - 0:17
  40. "Rip It Up" (Blackwell/Marascalco) - 0:23
  41. "I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye" (Snow) - 0:55        ELVIS (as Hank Snow)
  42. "Crazy Arms" (Mooney/Seals) - 3:36
  43. "That's My Desire" (Loveday/Kresa) - 2:02
  44. "End Of The Road" (Lewis) - 1:44
  45. "Black Bottom Stomp" (Morton)) - 1:11
  46. "You’re The Only Star In My Blue Heaven" (Autry) - 1:12
  47. Elvis Says Goodbye - 0:40



Sam Phillips in the control room with Presto 6N lathe and Ampex 350

Bill Hillman joins the Million Dollar Quartet

WS Holland was the drummer that "was there when it happened"
on December 4, 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, TN
when Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins
made history with the famous Million Dollar Quartet session.

The original photo with WS Holland added.
From right: Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and WS Holland.
WS “Fluke” Holland who played drums on the session has always been left out of the photos.
At the time, Fluke was Carl Perkins' drummer
He went on, beginning a few years later, to become Johnny Cash's drummer. . .
a position he held until the end of Johnny's working career.
After Johnny's death, WS toured with Johnny's guitarist, Bob Wootton,
as part of the resurrected Tennessee Three
which is when I met him.

A Toast from the Quartet

Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Sam Phillips in Sun Studio in 1985.
Click for full size


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The Hillman Musical Odyssey

Welcome to 
Sun Studios 
1. Arrival
Gift Shop
2. Sun Studio 
3. Sun Studio 
4. Sun Museum
Early Years
5. Sun Museum
The Blues
6. Sun Museum
7. Million Dollar Quartet
Dec 4, 1956
8. Quartet Mystery Girl
. . .
Tennessee 3
Johnny Cash
Hillman Odyssey




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