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Red, Hot & Rescue

Help us save the WHBQ Studio where Dewey Phillips did the very first interview with Elvis Presley!

Memphis: July 8th, 1954: Sun Records owner Sam Phillips brings radio disc jockey Dewey Phillips a recording of a young singer named Elvis Presley who has just cut a song called “That’s All Right”. Dewey has a show broadcast out of the Hotel Chisca called “Red, Hot, & Blue” on WHBQ. Dewey can’t tell if this singer with the weird name is black or white. Sam explains that they created this new music two nights before over at Sun Studio – but they don’t know what to call it. As the night’s broadcast begins, a nervous Elvis goes to the movies a few blocks from his home, thinking that he will fail miserably.

He doesn’t fail. He makes music history, radio history, and American history.
Callers demand that Dewey play “That’s All Right” at least 14 times on the air in one night. Callers want to know: Is the kid is black or white? What kind of music is this? Is it country? Is it blues? Sam Phillips urges the Presleys to find their son and get him down to the Hotel Chisca because Dewey Phillips is going to interview him live on the air.

Imagine a 19 year old Elvis Presley being driven to WHBQ, hearing “That’s All Right” projected from the car radios and rolled down windows of Memphis teenagers escaping the July heat. White kids listening to black music, black kids listening to white music – there was no segregation on Dewey’s “Red, Hot, and Blue”. When Elvis finally appears, he stutters to Dewey “I ain’t never been interviewed before…” Dewey makes casual conversation with him in that tiny little room at WHBQ, not informing him until after the show is over, that they had been on the air.

Elvis Presley, in being the first person to combine blues, country, pop, and gospel, changes pop culture forever, and it all occurred in that tiny room of Dewey Phillip’s on WHBQ at the Hotel Chisca.

What happened that night was the birth of rock and roll.

Now I want to tell you about what’s happening today in Memphis. Why of course, it’s the the good mixed with the bad. Which is why we need a little bit of your help. In Memphis, we tear down too much history, but every once and awhile something gets saved. The Hotel Chisca is now undergoing a 19 million dollar conversion into apartment living. I am extremely happy to see the repurposing of this 100 year old building.

Developers have graciously agreed to display Dewey’s radio room in the newly renovated and restored Chisca, if we raise the funds to restore the original studio and reconstruct it in a museum setting in the restaurant area that will reside in the lobby.

If funds can be raised in six weeks, Dewey’s original acoustic tiled room with original bay window recording glass will be measured, photographed, and safely removed before construction workers wipe out the mezzanine that contains WHBQ. With luck, this most-holy-of-places will also be retro-fitted with the same vintage equipment that was originally part of “Red, Hot, & Blue”.

We want you to drive down South Main in Memphis, Tennessee on a hot July night (or any night) with your destination being the Hotel Chisca. And even though the new Hotel Chisca features apartments, you will be able to step into the restaurant just down from the mezzanine where rock and roll was first broadcast, and see with your own eyes the very same acoustic tiles and machinery that Dewey used on “Red, Hot and Blue” amidst the very molecules where 19 year old nerve-wrecked Elvis Presley sat as Dewey asked him where he went to high school.

How much is this worth to you? Please help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

Any and all contributions, large or small, are welcome. Please help us spread the word.

The clock is ticking. (Mike McCarthy, 901-486-6325)

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AccessPass: DONATE to Save WHBQ Studio

DONATE to Save WHBQ Studio
$5
5.00
Available

By donating here, you are helping preserve a piece of Memphis and American history.

Note: You may customize your donation amount upon checkout.

Please help Memphis save its musical history!

Original JMM Poster featuring Elvis and Dewey

$25
25.00
Available

This will be an original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign. Signed by the artist.

Red Hot & Victory Dance

$25
25.00
97 left

Come to our party with Amy Lavere and John Paul Keith’s new band The
Motel Mirrors!

The show will happen in May in Memphis, TN – Location TBD!

2 Tickets to Memphis Mojo Tour: the Best of Memphis

$50
50.00
Available

The highest-rated tour in the city!

Join us on a musical Backbeat tour to see the greatest attractions
Memphis has to offer. Learn the musical history of the city, famous
for its blues, rock, gospel, and soul. It’s the only tour in town to
put Memphis’ musical heritage in the hands of real musicians, who will
combine story, comedy, and live music to divulge the secrets of
Memphis’ history.

On this tour, you will see:
Sun Studio, where many renowned performers recorded some of your favorite hits
Legendary Beale Street, the center of Memphis entertainment
Stax Museum, the home of America’s music roots and cultural heritage
Lorraine Motel (site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination),
Cotton Row, movie locations, and more.
Enjoy this fun and unique way to experience Memphis sightseeing with
your very own local Memphis musician as a guide!

JMM Poster Plain Print

$50
50.00
Available

Second Level Donation

$50
50.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

Third Level Donation

$75
75.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

Fourth Level Donation

$100
100.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

JMM Silkscreen

$100
100.00
Available

Couch Trip with JMM

$200
200.00
1 left

You have been given HIP NOTICE to take the Memphis Couch Trip!

This vacation visit MEMPHIS, take the COUCH TRIP tour and leave town
HIPPER, STRONGER, & WISER!

You’ve just made an appointment in Memphis to see the Shrink. But the
appointment is on your vacation! The doctor’s office is a hearse and
the couch you’re going to lay down on is a nice comfy futon in the
back.

The MEMPHIS SHRINK is your tour guide. He’s the HOST with a ghost town
on his back and he’s willing to talk if you’re willing to listen. To
aid you in your relaxation and imagery you will be TRIP-NOTIZED by our
lovely assistant THE TRIPNOTIST who rides shotgun with a saxophone.
She will ‘trip-notize’ you with her siren call into thinking that you
are actually going back in time to the ’50’s, ’60’s or ’70s. The
TRIPNOTIST is there for your comfort and relaxation.

You may have heard that a hearse is a smooth ride – but our Driver
isn’t just taking care of business, he’s driving the CARE TAKIN’
BUSINESS, a 1974 Cadillac Hearse!

Therein, We are not merely observing – but FEELING the sights and
sounds of our 188 year old city that created rock and roll. At first
it might appear to be a hallucination, but no…. it’s Memphis
Tennessee.

You don’t just take this Tour laying down. We stop at key locations
and offbeat destinations where you can stretch your legs and stand
where musical giants stood. Feel the breeze blowing off the river.
Have a tall glass of Memphis water (we supply it).

After ninety minutes you have the right to be ‘untripnotized’ but even
so, you will always be hip to Memphis.

Lamar Sorrento Painting

$300
300.00
100 left

Original Painting by Lamar Sorrento of Elvis and Dewey

Acoustic Tiles

$400
400.00
24 left

Accoustic tiles form Dewey Phillips actual studio where he interviewed
Elvis – signed by George Klein!

Fifth Level Donation

$500
500.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

George Klein Tour

$500
500.00
10 left

Tale a tour of the studio with George Klein and hear the stories about
Elvis and WHBQ from someone who was there!!

Sixth Level Donation

$1,000
1000.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

Seventh Level Donation

$2,500
2500.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

Eighth Level Donation

$5,000
5000.00
Available

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

The Ultimate Donation

$10,000
10000.00
10 left

Your generous contribution will help Memphis save its musical history. Future generations will thank you for your insight into the one of the greatest moments in twentieth century American history which we are calling “Red Hot and Rescue”.

For your donation, you will also received the original Mike McCarthy Poster created specifically for this campaign, featuring Elvis and Dewey. Signed by the artist.

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