Sun Records is a historical drama miniseries aired on CMT, set primarily in 1950's Memphis, Tennessee. It is based on true events as interpreted by the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet.
The show opens with Sam Phillips moving to Memphis in pursuit of a dream: his own record label, one that will define the music of the modern age. He believes that somewhere in the city is an undiscovered talent that will make his dream a reality. Little does he know that rising star will find him instead...an unknown teenage boy named Elvis.
The audience follows the tumultuous life of Phillips and his assistant/partner Marion Keisker as they cross paths with the most memorable music legends of the mid-20th century, as well as the everyday lives of the ones he has yet to meet. It also features eccentric radio host Dewey Phillips (no relation to Sam), talent manager "Colonel" Tom Parker, and a host of other music-industry figures of the period.
The series premiered February 23, 2017 on CMT, for a total of eight episodes.
This show provides examples of:
- The '50s: Historical, with a bit of Nostalgic for flavor.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Sam takes pills for something that looks an awful lot like bipolar disorder, but it's never directly named. Other treatments range from electroshock therapy to Dewey's "self-pre-scribed medication" (read: drugs).
- Artistic License History:
- Elvis' first recording session in real life was courtesy of Marion, who was alone in the studio at the time. The show depicts Sam trying to defer the session to her, but instead manning the console himself when she points out the record is a birthday present for Elvis' mother.
- Love Triangle: Sam is married to his wife Becky, but having an affair with Marion. He's prepared to leave Becky, until she announces she's pregnant with their third child, and things only get more complicated from there.
- Oh, Crap!: Dewey walks out of the WHBQ radio station angry with his boss, to find a group of drunken vandals shooting at the neon sign. He gets along with them initially, until he reveals who he is — and they realize he's white, which comes as a surprise because he plays 'black' music on his show. They're white. Oh, Crap!.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Deliberately invoked by the seemingly all-American Colonel, as his real name and nationality - Dutchman Andreas van Kuijk - is considerably less conducive to his business prospects in the America of his time. When confronted about it by his current employer Hank Snow, he's quick to point out he's not the only one engaged in the self-renaming practice.Colonel: What's your favorite Marion Morrison movie?Hank: Never heard of her.Colonel: That's because you know 'her' as John Wayne.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", covered by the band Breaking Heights.
- Title Drop: The show is named after Sam's record label.