Million Dollar Moment: Welk production captures rock n' roll history
It was December 1956 and Sun Records Studio owner Sam Phillips had scheduled a recording session with rockabilly upcomer, Carl Perkins. Phillips had just discovered his next star, Jerry Lee Lewis and had recently parted professional ways with an early discovery, Elvis Presley. Phillips, the “godfather of rock n’ roll,” was also responsible for Johnny Cash’s early fame.
Cliff Wright takes the Welk Resort Theatre stage, acting and singing the role of Johnny Cash in Million Dollar Quartet, the tale of a million dollar moment in musical history captured in the live production. “Sometimes” Cliff explained, “people go… Wow! Where did you come up with that story? The events really happened. It is theatre, but it’s based on true events.”
During the show, audience members are treated to live renditions of rockin’ classics like Blue Suede Shoes, Folsom Prison Blues, Great Balls of Fire and That’s All Right, plus twenty more million dollar favorites.
“I’ve always been kind of a Sun Records catalogue historian,” Cliff said. “Evis Presley has always been my favorite out of the characters. But, I listen to a lot of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins.”
The opportunity arose for Sun Records owner Sam Phillips to get his four discoveries in the same recording studio and see what happened. An impromptu jam session ensued, a quick acting studio engineer hit the record button, and the rest is rock n’ roll history.
“A lot of cool things happen in this show,” Cliff said. “You have to watch it a couple of times to get all of the story down. “During the show it’s always like the first time the audience ever heard the songs,” Cliff said. “By the end of the show, there’s not a person sitting. Even people who aren’t supposed to be standing are standing. It’s very exciting.”