He passed away late on Wednesday at St. Francis Hospital. Widely regarded as one of the most important figures in 20th century popular music, Philips played a major role in bringing the electric blues to a wide audience and in pioneering the birth of rock ’n’ roll.
He founded his recording and producing company Sun Records in 1952, fusing the best of rhythms and blues with country and western in the Memphis-based studio, ushering in a musical genre that transformed America’s recording scene.
Phillips’ plan was to allow artists with no formal training play their music as they felt it. The Sun motto was “We Record Anything, Anywhere, Anytime.”
He produced Presley’s first record, the 1954 single that featured “That’s All Right, Mama” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
Yet before his sojourn with the King of rock’ n’ roll, Philips played a pivotal role in Memphis blues.
He recorded future blues greats such as BB King, Rosco Gordon and Jackie Brenston. Sun Records later produced records for artists Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison.
Phillips, who sold Sun Records in 1969, was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.