American Masters: Season 16, Episode 5

Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records (28 Nov. 2001)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 76 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

A history of Memphis' Sun Records, the legendary label that started the careers of such rock and country icons as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. ... See full summary »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (archive footage)
Carl Perkins ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Sam Phillips ...
Himself - Founder, Sun Records
Jack Clement ...
Himself - Sun Engineer / Songwriter
Scotty Moore ...
Himself - Elvis Presley's guitarist
Billy Lee Riley ...
Himself - Sun Artist
Sonny Burgess ...
Himself - Sun Artist
Himself - Founder, Atlantic Records
Chester Burnett ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Howlin' Wolf)
Himself - Sun Artist
D.J. Fontana ...
Himself - Elvis Presley's drummer


A history of Memphis' Sun Records, the legendary label that started the careers of such rock and country icons as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. Included are archival footage and interviews with many rock and country artists who either recorded for Sun or knew owner Sam Phillips. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rock music | See All (1) »





Release Date:

28 November 2001 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Did not make the final edit: During the finale, shot in the tiny, crowded studio, Sam Phillips went wild when he saw Little Milton enter the room. He called out to Milton to PLEASE set the record straight and contradict what Rufus Thomas was saying about Phillips' lack of honesty: "Milton here knows the truth and he'll tell you. I never cheated my artists." See more »


Roland Janes, the longtime engineer for Sam Phillips at his various recording studios, was the original smoking guitarist on many Sun hits, most notably Billy Lee Riley's "Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n Roll." Roland was sitting in the reception room of the old Sun Studio when Billy Lee took the mike to perform his old hits for the recording crew. Mr. Phillips came out and begged Roland to pick up the guitar and play that scorching opening. Roland was reluctant to do so, because he gave up the guitar some years ago, but Mr. Phillips kept after him. Roland finally agreed, entered the studio and started his blistering attack on the electric guitar. Inexplicably, Roland Janes' remarkable playing is nowhere to be seen. See more »


"Just Walking In The Rain'
Written by Robert Riley, Johnny Bragg and Buddy Killen
Performed by Johnny Bragg
See more »

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User Reviews

Absolutely delightful!
22 August 2007 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

I confess I was not around when Sun Records was in its hey-day, but watching this show is fantastic. While it primarily focus' on Sun recording artists and having active artists re-record some Sun classics, it is also a history lesson of the times, some names that aren't as familiar as perhaps they ought to be, and Sam Phillips. And it's not all good, either...there are a couple of artists who speak up about issues they had with their career tied mostly to Mr. Phillips.

The trivia and goofs section mentions a couple of scenes edited out, and it surprises me material of that sort didn't make it anywhere on the DVD, unless there is an easter egg I'm unaware of that has it. There are some fantastic performances/renditions to be personal recommendations are Jerry Lee Lewis recording "Lonely Weekend" with Matchbox 20; and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page recording Sonny Burgess' "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It". There are a couple of re-recordings I just cannot find much to appreciate in, but the behind the scenes of the recording and coming up with their rendition was still interesting.

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