Landmarks in Memphis
The giant neon sign for the Peabody
Hotel still stands as the hotel still does a brisk business
after 125+ years (not consecutively). It was author/historian
David Cohn who wrote that "The Mississippi Delta begins
in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg."
The Peabody gained that distinction from being Memphis's first
luxury hotel. In reference to blues music, both the Paramount
and Vocalion labels would rent out rooms in here and record blues
musicians during the 1920s and 30s while big bands would broadcast
their spectacles from the ballrooms of the Peabody.
blues related, the Peabody ducks are a tourist attraction of their
own accord. (All info garnered from the Peabody
The rebuilt Stax Records museum and music academy (The
official name is Stax Museum of American Soul Music). Stax Records
was the father of the soul music genre. It was the noted record
label for Albert King, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Rufus and Carla
Thomas, and Johnnie Taylor (who recorded the biggest hit for Stax
Records with "Whos Making Love" in 1968). Re-established
on May 2, 2003 (I took these photos two weeks after the opening),
the original building was torn down in 1988 thanks to the Southside
Church of God (who bought the property for $10 in 1980, then refused
for many years to allow any memorials to Stax Records because
they felt it was the "devil music" according to Steve
Cheseborough). They even have a website, www.staxmuseum.com.
The Stax Museum is located on the 900 block of East
McLemore Ave, SE of the downtown area. It is easier to reach Stax
Records from I-240 (between I-40 and I-55) than following the
city streets from Downtown Memphis.
On the Left - The current home for WDIA Radio.
WDIA is most noted for being the first station to go with an all
black format in 1949 (it became the top-rated radio station in
Memphis within 5 years). WDIA is also where B.B. King and Rufus
Thomas got their start in the music business. They still play
blues overnights! Click on the historical placard for a close
up on what it says.
On the Right - Mose Vinson
(1917- 2002) playing piano at the Center of Southern Folklore's
old home on Beale St (Photo taken in June, 1999)
for Southern Folklore used to be situated on Beale St (the
above photo was taken at that location in June, 1999). When their
lease wasn't renewed in 1999, they moved to Pembroke Square. Beside
being the cultural equivalent to A.Schwab, they also produce the
Memphis Music and Heritage Festival every Labor Day Weekend.
This is one of the most interesting street names I've
ever seen. It's an alley, one can use it as an escape (I suppose),
but who is General Washburn, and what does he have to do with
this alley? Located between Beale and Gayoso Streets near 2nd
I stumbled upon the answers to my own questions
about this location in a travelogue entitled Highway 61
by William McKeen.
William McKeen writes (and I
paraphrase) "General Washburn was a Yankee (albeit from Wisconsin),
a general for the Union army during the Civil War. Somehow while
leading a retreating group of Union soldiers, Washburn lost his
pants! Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest somehow came
in possession of Washburn's pants and then shipped them back to
Washburn. General Washburn later on became governor congressman
for Wisconsin and founder of what we know today as General Mills.
Nathan Forrest is best known for founding the Ku Klux Klan."
The entrance to Sun Studio (Museum) with the second
largest Gibson guitar above it. Behind the entrance you can see
the street sign for Sam Philips Avenue (honorary) Photo taken
in January, 2005
The side wall shows posters of the noted performers
from the heyday of Sun Studio. (Photo taken in January, 2005)
Beale St in the daylight (companion
page to this)
& Tourism Bureau
Sun Studio's official website
All photos taken in May, 2003 unless noted otherwise
Page created on January 14, 2004/ last updated on July 3,
Questions, comments, and submissions can be sent to Sandor
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